A student, Karim was a computer prodigy. In 2004 — at the age of nine — she became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in the world. At 10 she got her pilot’s license. In 2006, on a trip to the U.S. from her native Pakistan, a “dream came true” when she got to meet Bill Gates at Microsoft. She was a celebrity at home: a Science park in Lahore was named after her: Arfa Karim Technology Park. Karim was given the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology by the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz; the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award by the President of Pakistan; and the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, a civil award granted to those who have shown excellence in their field over a long period of time — the youngest recipient of this award. She was reportedly working on a project for NASA, but in December, she was hospitalized in critical condition after a seizure caused brain damage. Bill Gates directed his doctors to adopt “every kind of measure” for her treatment, and paid for her care. She did not recover, and died on January 14. She was 16.
From This is True for 15 January 2012