Once considered to stop school and struggle with both her personal and academic life, Uma has defeated the odds and is now even a teacher.
The 33-year-old owes her growth and achievements to Mrs. Ling Chee Ngok, her teacher from when she studied at the Serangoon Garden Secondary School.
Here is the submission of Uma for the Samsung-Stomp Inspiring Teachers Awards:
"The teacher and role model I always look up to is Mrs. Chee Ngok, a teacher who taught from the heart and not from the book, and her love and compassion helped me to cope with my academic journey. Serangoon Garden Secondary School.
"She was not only a teacher, but a good companion who helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, I struggled to adapt to the school environment and the challenges that awaited." She gave me many wonderful opportunities to explore my strengths and help others in school.
"It was too overwhelming that I often broke up at school and even had the idea to leave school, somehow she identified the fear in me and often checked me after classes.
"She was someone I could trust and share all my personal problems, especially when I was deeply affected because my grandmother was bedridden. She was a motherly figure not only for me, but many other students at school.
"Her positivity and encouragement lightened my days at school, her fascinating personality and way of teaching has always impressed me.
"It is 20 years ago and we are still in contact with each other, she continues to encourage me in everything I do, she is truly a God-sent angel in my life."
Ling, who is currently a Flexi-Adjunct at Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School (PRCS), told Stomp that she started the noble role of teaching in 1973 and retired in December 2004.
She added: "I have done assistant teaching to help teachers with maternity leave, but my time in PRCS since June 2016 has been the longest piece so far.
"It's a nice school and I'm happy with the cooperation with the younger teachers here."
The competition is now closed and the winners will be contacted shortly.
Read all entries for the competition here.