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Computer Prodigy's Legacy Will Inspire Pakistani Children

Arfa Karim Randhawa passed away at the tender age of just 16. Inna Lillah Wa Inna Elaih Rajeon!

Born in 1995, she achieved celebrity status after becoming the world's youngest computer expert at the age of 9, passing a tough series of Microsoft tests designed for software professionals. Her success brought her an invitation to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, where she met its chairman, Bill Gates, and discussed her idea for a self-navigating car in 2005.

She spent the last month of her short life in a Lahore hospital after reportedly suffering an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest. Two weeks ago her prognosis appeared to improve. In recent weeks, Microsoft stepped in to help provide expert medical care.

Todd Bishop, a Seattle-based newspaper reporter covering her Redmond visit, wrote about her as follows: "She made an impression through a combination of charm, flattery and boldness uncommon for someone her age. For example, during Arfa’s meeting with Gates, she presented him with a poem she wrote that celebrated his life story. But she also questioned him about what she perceived to be the relatively small proportion of women on the campus."

When a younger 9-year-old Indian girl M. Lavinashree broke her record a few years ago by becoming the youngest Microsoft Software professional, Bishop told Arfa about it and got the following response from her:

“This is the first time I’ve seen this story. But I must say that I’m really happy to have read it. This is exactly what I had been wishing for ever since I got to bring laurels for my country. I am very glad to see that people are following what I did and have succeeded in beating me. I don’t know whether you’ve heard or not but a boy, named Bilal, from Gujranwala in Pakistan also became a Microsoft Certified Professional at the age of nine. I would say that the other youngsters should follow suit, thereby convincing the people to take us kids seriously. Our generation is very talented and so should be promoted.”

Arfa's untimely death at such a young age is a tragic loss for her family and for Pakistan. Her legacy, however, will live on. I hope and expect that many more Lavinashrees and Bilals will be inspired by her memory to accomplish whatever they set their mind to, including but not limited to achieving celebrity as Microsoft professionals.

Here's a video clip of Arfa Karim's Interview:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

Pakistani Software Expert Helps Fight Terror

Pakistan IT Industry

Pakistan Leads Asia in Biometric IT Services

Pakistanis Studying Abroad

Pakistan Working Women

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

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Tags: Microsoft, computer, pakistani, prodigy, software

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 19, 2012 at 10:52am

Here's Huffington Post on Pakistan's new youngest Microsoft professional:

Qualifying to be a "Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist" is an impressive achievement regardless of one's age, but now a Pakistani boy named Shafay Thobani can boast having checked it off his to-do list at the tender age of 8, the Daily Mail and the UK's Sun newspaper are reporting.

According to Shafay's personal website -- likely managed by adults, as it makes heavy use of the phrase "the child" to describe his training and accomplishments -- he started working with computers when he was just 4 years old.

At the age of 7, Shafay started training to pass the exams necessary to become a Microsoft expert. Doing so meant 13 months on a strict schedule that involved attending school from 7:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, followed by computer classes at his father's office from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Becasue Shafay's father is Shah Thobani, the CEO of Thobson Technologies in Karachi, the boy had access to a 1,000 square foot training space featuring three desktops, switches, routers and laptops.

Despite all those hours of work, Shafay's father and the staff who trained him didn't lose track of that fact that the boy is only 8. There was a dedicated area for chess, darts and arcade games.

All that rigorous studying appears to have paid off though, with Shafay reportedly achieving a score of 91 percent.

“I feel like the luckiest parent because at the end of each day I only ever receive very positive feedback from Shafay’s teachers," Shah Thobani was quoted as saying in the Sun. “Every year I give Shafay a new challenge to try and encourage him."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/shafay-thobani-8-year-old_...

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