She thought it was all over when she did badly for her A levels.
She thought that her dream of earning a spot in the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine was gone forever.
But Miss Amalina Ridzuan, 23, eventually made that dream a reality.
After completing a Biomedical Sciences diploma course at Temasek Polytechnic (TP), with a grade point average of 3.98 out of 4, she applied for NUS' medical school and was accepted.
Miss Amalina, 23, is now a first-year medical student.
She said: "Many times, I felt like I was not cut out for medical school. I later realised that some people just take a longer time."
The madrasah graduate said that she grew up playing doctor with her two brothers and two sisters, aged 12 to 21.
A newspaper report about a cancer patient, which she came across while in secondary school, cemented her dream of being an oncologist.
"I knew it was competitive to get a place in the medical school, with over 90 per cent of the students from junior colleges.
"I thought going to a JC would be the most appropriate route. But I couldn't adapt well at all," she said.
A day before her A levels, something in her snapped and she broke down.
SUPPORTIVE MUM "I told my mum I was really sorry. I thought she would scold me, but she told me it's okay," Miss Amalina said quietly.
While she declined to reveal her exact grades, she said it was not enough to get into NUS.
Peers told her to try her hand at something completely different and for her to be more practical.
But her mother saw things differently.
"Since you were young, I knew you'd be a doctor," she had told her daughter.
Encouraged by her mother, Miss Amalina started afresh with a Biomedical Sciences course at TP.
The course turned out to be a gateway of opportunities, including an internship stint at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), where she worked on cancer biomarkers.
She then mustered up the courage to apply to medical school.
"I just thought I'd give it a try," said Miss Amalina.
While on a graduation trip in Lombok, Indonesia, she received the acceptance e-mail from her dream school.
Miss Amalina credits her success to her 47-year-old mother, who has always led by example.
"She stopped her education last time to work to support us.
"Recently, she graduated with a business-related diploma.
"I think she wanted to prove to us that no matter when or where, as long as you put your heart and mind into it, you can do it," Miss Amalina said.
She is keeping her options open about what to specialise in.
"I'll see how things go, but I definitely want to do something that can help people," she said.
This article was first published on Jan 9, 2016.
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