Mrs. Kirstin Yip has probably reached more than you, and she has just turned 20.
Although she scored the best possible six-point score for her O-levels, she missed the conventional route to go to a top junior college.
Instead, she took the less traveled route, choosing the Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media at the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) – the only college in Singapore offering a specialized creative writing program.
At the end of her three-year polytechnic education she received one of the highest honors that a student could obtain: the Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship, a prize awarded to only a limited number of outstanding candidates each year.
But her performance list is even more impressive when you consider that during her days at high school and college education she was involved in the bitter divorce proceedings of her parents.
"It was a dark period in my life," she admits.
She had always considered herself a writer – after all, she was enrolled in a creative writing course – but had never considered the subject as a means of catharsis.
At least not before she met her personal private teacher, Mrs Gamar Abdul Aziz.
From Rescue to Classroom
With her disarming smile and relaxed attitude, a photo of Mrs. Gamar is probably what you would find if you opened an encyclopaedia for the article about "educating teacher".
In addition to several other honors during her 10-year career in SP, she has been awarded the SP-Excellence in Teaching Award and E-learning Award and has also received a nomination for the Excellence in Care & Guidance Award 2018.  But among the modest exterior of the 46-year-old is a hard-nosed journalist with a keen eye for a good story. Before she went to Singapore Polytechnic as a teacher, Mrs. Gamar spent 14 years in the editorial office, moved from the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation to the Television Corporation in Singapore and finally to Mediacorp as an editor.
"I loved my job as a journalist," she says, almost wistfully. "But after learning so many things, I felt that I had to learn something new."
Why teach specifically?
"At first the idea never occurred to me," Gamar says with a smile. "At first I only associated it with primary and secondary schools."
But when she came across an advertisement that was looking for an experienced job candidate to give television journalism, she knew that her search for her next big business had ended.
After guiding her young colleagues in the editorial office, Mrs. Gamar thought it was a surprisingly natural fit for her, and she fully embraced the opportunity to formally train the next generation of journalists.
"I believe that as a teacher, I can open doors for my students," she says. "I hope they will be able to make better versions of themselves after they've met me."
So when Yip walked into the interview room during the Direct Polytechnic Admission exercise, it was not long before Ms. Gamar learned about the keen mind and eloquence of the youngster.
"Kirstin was always attentive and interrogated," says Ms. Gamar, noting their interactions in the classroom. "She likes to be engaged and would always leave my class with more questions than answers."
"More than anything else, she loves the challenge," she laughs.
"I think Ms. Gamar prompted me to think in ways I think were not possible before," says Yip.
"She has always ensured that lessons were taught outside the classroom, such as opportunities to report important events."
Lighting the fire
Under the guidance of Mrs. Gamar and other educators, Yip found her step. She concentrated on a large number of school activities, including her course during the exchange program Jenesys 2016 to Japan. She was even appointed Secretary-General of the S Rajaratnam Endowment Youth Model Asean Conference.
And Mrs. Gamar was behind her at every step.
"She wrote me testimonies, brought me into contact with her reading room contacts for learning opportunities, and even made a point of talking to my family members so she would know how to best provide support," Ms. Yip recalls. .
But above all, she is grateful to her teacher for helping to heal, especially in the dark times of her life. Even with the fact that both her parents had supported her in that tumultuous period, Mrs. Gamar could help her in a way they could not.
Thanks to her, Mrs. Yip could confuse her and her uncertainty about the divorce of her parents in a writing assignment, something she holds on to and puts her on the road to recovery.
"She helped me to confront my feelings, at a time when I was very confused and still hurt," she says. "At the same time, she reminded me that as a journalist I should always be responsible for my words, and that really struck me."
But as something, Gamar sees it the other way around – that her students have taught her more than she could ever learn.
"I have learned so much from my students, which encourages me to continue to care for and love them," she says.
"There have been many times that being a teacher means more than just being" adult in class "."
It is a teacher to be versatile, she says. At any time, a teacher must be a mentor, a cheerleader or a pillow, depending on what a student needs most.
"Every child has his or her strength," she says with a shrug. "My job is simply to help them find, use and nurture them."
So she makes it unrecognizable that Yip Yip's success was her – "just give her a push and she will fly," she says.
"From the beginning it was clear that Kirstin was capable, sincere and focused, using her own challenges and turning them into a force," concludes Mrs. Gamar.
"If I had helped in some way, I am really humble."