Sixteen-year old computer prodigy and Microsoft’s youngest certified professional Arfa Karim passed away this weekend, the Huffington Post reported
Karim had been in a coma since late December, when she suffered an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest. The Express Tribune had reported that doctors were unable to save her after a tracheotomy complication on Saturday resulted in bleeding in her throat.
In a statement to The Express Tribune, Karim’s uncle said, “We are grieving her loss but she was a strong child. […] She was God’s gift to us and now she has returned to Him.”
Karim, a native of Pakistan, became the youngest Microsoft certified professional (MCP) in 2005 at the age of 9. CNET said Karim became interested in technology when her father bought her a computer to use for email.
Karim was 10 years old when she was invited to tour Microsoft’s labs and meet with executives, including a one-on-one meeting with Bill Gates himself.
In January, after Karim’s hospitalization, Gates reached out to her family and offered to pay for her medical care, Geo.TV reported. Gates also floated the idea of moving Karim to the United States, but since she was on a ventilator her doctors had decided against the move.
According to the Seattle P-I, the “Microsoft Certified Professional” title is awarded to people who master Microsoft programs. Microsoft notes on its website: “Microsoft Certifications bring valuable, measurable rewards to students, IT professionals, their managers, and the organizations that employ them. These certifications are designed to provide the recognition you need to help you excel in your career and provide employers with validation of your skills.”
Although even younger people have since received the designation, it is most commonly a way for adults already in the computer field to further their careers.
But Karim was no ordinary young person. During an interview with the Seattle P-I, quoted in Geek Wire, she demonstrated some surprising mature views for a 10-year-old. Karim told interviewer Todd Bishop, “If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind. If you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind.”
Karim was reportedly working on a project for NASA at the time of her hospitalization.