21-year-old woman is married mother of one, university student and paralegal at law firm

At just 21 years old, Rao Liyan is shouldering multiple major responsibilities such as mothering a toddler while balancing school and work.

According to Lianhe Zaobao, Ms Rao had been a political science student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for half a year when she unexpectedly fell pregnant at the age of 19.

Although initially unsure if she was ready for motherhood, she decided to marry her boyfriend of nine months and raise their child together following discussions with their families.

Ms Rao also dropped out of NUS and took up part-time studies at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), so that she could spend more time with her child.

Being a mother at her age was not an easy decision, but Ms Rao acknowledges how lucky she is to have the support of her and her husband's families. She also has a group of friends who have given her a lot of encouragement on her journey as a young parent.

Ms Rao said that she initially struggled to come to terms with her pregnancy as being a mother was not part of her life plan. She also felt that she would not being able to provide her child with a comfortable life due to her financial status.

However, the support of relatives and friends filled Ms Rao with confidence. She began making plans for her and her child's future. Besides relying on the support of her family, she was also determined to raise her child properly.

Although aware that balancing motherhood, work and school would be a huge challenge, the thought of dropping out of school to become a full-time stay-at-home mother never once occurred to Ms Rao.

When she decided to go through with her pregnancy, she made plans to not only continue her studies, but also to find a job to bear part of the family expenses.

Fortunately, both her and her husband's families help out with childcare duties when she is busy, which has lightened her burden tremendously.

Ms Rao is currently a mother of one, a university student and a paralegal at a law firm.

Although starting anew academically means she will graduate later than her peers, Ms Rao believes that working at a law firm will allow her to gain experience and be more employable upon graduation.