SINGAPORE - While her contemporaries gun for top schools, teacher Vithiya Vannan chose to mould lives from the bottom up.
She was then fresh from university when she decided to apply for the education officer position at Boys' Town, a home for at-risk boys.
"This was despite protests from my family. They said I am a mere girl. What do I know about fending off these troubled teenaged boys," Ms Vithiya, 25, told The New Paper.
She said she was attracted to the alternative schooling programme at the 65-year-old Boys' Town, which reaches out to youths from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The programme was formed to support boys with different learning needs and provide them a home-schooling environment.
In addition to academic certification, it imparts life skills such as customer service, work ethics and offers vocational training they need to become responsible and contributing members of society.
Ms Vithiya not only takes the boys in moral and civics education, as an education officer, she also coordinates part-time teachers who come in to teach them subjects such as English, Chinese, Mathematics and Science.
Like most people, Ms Vithiya had preconceived notions of Boys' Town and its residents, but that impression changed as soon as she walked through its gates.
"I found out that these boys need guidance and support from a mentor and friend, rather than someone barking instructions at them," she said.
So she decided to be just that - a mentor and friend.