9-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Wins MCP
At just 9 years old, Arfa Karim Randhawa, of Faisalabad, Pakistan, is one of the youngest Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) in the world. She recently discussed with Micronews how she came to achieve this status and what it means to her and her family.
Q: When did you first become interested in computers?
Arfa: At the age of 5, when I was in kindergarten, I often used to pass by the computer labs and see students doing work on computers. I realized that calculation, which would take us a long time to do, can be done in less than a second with the help of computers. So that is how my interest in computers began. I started to explore computers on my own and first used one at the age of 6, when I was in first grade. Then I went to Applied Technologies (APTECH) for further studies.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue MCP certification?
Arfa: When I went to APTECH, my teachers, keeping in view my aim and age, decided that I should go for a certification of Microsoft. Because of my interest in software development, they decided that I should go for my MCP. It took me four months, and I did it during my summer vacation.
Q: What does it mean to you to receive this honor?
Arfa: It means a lot to me, because it helped me get recognition worldwide and to fulfill the dreams of my parents, especially my late grandfather, Ch. Abdul Karim Randhawa. I am thankful to Almighty Allah and my teachers, without whom I could not have achieved this honor. This is just the beginning.
Q: How have your family and friends reacted?
Arfa: The reaction of my family and friends was, naturally, very exciting. They are exhilarated and very much proud of me. My father provided me the opportunities, the required hardware, various software and the main thing, which is my confidence level.
Q: What is it like where you live?
Arfa: I live in Faisalabad, a major industrial city of Pakistan. Faisalabad is called “Manchester of Pakistan,” and it is famous for its cloth industry. It was designed by Sir James Lyall on the design of Union Jack, i.e. Faisalabad contains eight roads with a clock tower in the center and a circular road around it.
I belong to a purely agricultural family from a rural background. My late grandfather, Ch. Abdul Karim Randhawa was an unlettered scholar and had a great passion for higher education for his next generation. My father is serving with a U.N. peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My mother is a landlady and looks after the land affairs in the absence of my father. I have two younger brothers, named Sarmad and Dawood, ages 7 and 3, respectively. Prior to me, no one in my family is in the field of IT, but I can feel that my brothers are following my footsteps very anxiously and enthusiastically. They are posing a constant challenge to my world record.
Q: Have you ever visited America? If not, do you plan to in the future?
Arfa: I have not visited America as of now. However, I would love to come to the United States, for two reasons. Firstly, I would like to pay a visit to Disneyland. Secondly, I would like to meet Bill Gates.
Q: What are your impressions of Microsoft?
Arfa: Microsoft has changed the way people think about computers. Microsoft has laid down the foundations for next-generation computing and is the founder in terms of providing user-friendly software—thereby increasing the number of novice users. I like the way Microsoft participates in other-than-mainstream activities, such as academic research, charities, scholarships and connecting the disconnected by providing technology support to underserved people. Microsoft develops a lot of software that allows people to realize their potential. This is exactly what my experience is with Microsoft. I’ve passion for software, and Microsoft provide me a true platform.
Q: Would you ever want to work at Microsoft?
Arfa: I would definitely like to work at Microsoft, since software development and exploring new technologies has always been my passion, and Microsoft is best when it comes to next-generation software technologies. Technology evangelism has always been my passion since I learned how to use computers. Not only I would like to work as the youngest technology evangelist at Microsoft, I would like to work on those cutting-edge technologies which would be explored by technology evangelists five years from now. Moreover, I would love to visit Microsoft headquarters at Redmond. I have dreamt a lot about the Redmond campus. I have visualized in my dreams so many times the working environment of Microsoft. I would like to see the labs where Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework have been developed.
Q: What other kinds of activities or hobbies do you enjoy?
Arfa: Computers, singing, reading, painting and gardening are my hobbies. I have won a singing competition at the national level. I keep my self updated by reading different books and encyclopedias.
Q: Do you have any advice for other young people?
Arfa: I have a message for the kids across the globe: If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only in the mind. If you think shy, you act shy. But if you think confident, you act confident. Therefore, never let shyness conquer your mind.