Travelling the world as an air hostess may sound like a dream job.

But Ms Ong Teng Teng had a different calling. She wanted to be a nurse.

The Singapore Airlines girl quit flying and enrolled in a course after being inspired by the way nurses cared for her baby son when he developed a painful abscess.

"It was a scary experience," she said. "When I saw the nurses take care of him, I realised I really wanted to do what they were doing."

Seven years later, the Nanyang Polytechnic student has graduated with a grade point average of 3.97 and an award recognising her achievements.

"When I was flying and got to travel, I was happy for myself," said the 37-year-old mother of two. "But now it's a different kind of happy. I'm satisfied when I can nurse a patient back to health."

Ms Ong - who moved to Singapore from Malaysia when she was 20 - had always dreamed of being a nurse. But her parents objected, believing it was not a career that offered good prospects, and she placed her ambition on the backburner.

Then, years later, the idea came back to her - through her son Lukas Wong. At just a few months old, he had to undergo two operations for a perianal abscess at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

Inspired by the nurses, Ms Ong quit her job and took up a nursing course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). An internship followed at Ang Mo Kio Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, which sponsored her to study at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Ms Ong, who became a Singapore citizen last month, has also received the Tay Eng Soon award for outstanding polytechnic graduates from the ITE.

"I'm really grateful to the hospital for recognising my hard work," she said. "I didn't expect such opportunities to come at my age."