Kairan Quazi (left) in class at Santa Clara University – Photograph by Lisa Robinson of Santa Clara University
www.theguardian.com: Kairan Quazi, the youngest graduate Santa Clara University’s history, will start at Starlink division in July. Kairan Quazi is years away from legally being able to watch an R-rated movie at the theatre by himself or buy a drink at the bar, but he’s about to get a college degree and start a job at SpaceX.
Other than that, the 14-year-old insists he’s had a fairly normal academic journey. Quazi’s story has gone viral after California media outlets reported on his preparing to graduate from Santa Clara University on 17 June.
The Bay Area native will not only become the youngest graduate in the school’s 172-year history, but is also about to join a short list of people who have graduated from college in their childhoods.
Oldest.org, a culture and history website, maintains a list of 10 of the youngest ever college graduates. Quazi is about the same age as numbers six through nine on that list.
As the San Francisco television station KGO tells it, Quazi’s family first discovered his advanced intellect when he began speaking in full sentences at just two years old. He would listen to National Public Radio in kindergarten and talk to his teachers and classmates about the stories he would hear, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Then, in third grade (the UK equivalent of year four), Quazi took tests which showed his intelligence was in the 99.9th percentile of the general population, according to BrainGain Magazine.
Quazi felt unchallenged by his school work, and his teachers, his paediatrician and his parents concluded that “mainstream education wasn’t the right path” for his accelerated learning, he said to KGO.
He subsequently enrolled at Las Positas community college – where he also worked as a highly sought-after tutor – and transferred to Santa Clara to study computer science and engineering two years later, when he was 11.
As he switched schools, Quazi also earned an undergraduate internship involving generative artificial intelligence work at the research lab for the tech company Intel.
It was in the college environment where “I felt like I was learning at the level that I was meant to learn,” Quazi said to the Los Angeles Times.
He told KGO that his experience was largely normal. He would unwind by playing video games, the Times reported. He spent some of his free time reading, especially the work of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick and journalist Michael Lewis, whose books include The Big Short, a chronicle of the 2008 financial crisis, and Moneyball, a history of the sports analytics movement. He also served on the student senate.
“There wasn’t anything to compare it to [so as] to say, ‘Oh, this is different,’” Quazi said. “But I really enjoyed it – I made a lot of close friends. I think after a few days the novelty of me being there wore off.”
More recently, Quazi landed an interview for a job with Starlink, the satellite internet division at Elon Musk’s spaceflight firm SpaceX. He told the Times that he coveted the position because it would let him be part of something bigger than himself.
Starlink gave him a July start date. He and his mom have been planning to move after his graduation from their apartment in Santa Clara to a place in Redmond, Washington, that is closer to his job at Starlink.
“She’s uprooting her life to move me to Washington,” Quazi told KGO about his mother, whom he described as his biggest supporter. “I’m eternally grateful for her.”
Quazi also told the Times that he hopes the media’s focus on him convinces “leaders in influential positions [to] challenge their biases and misconceptions”.
On his LinkedIn page, he recently said the decisions by Las Positas to accept him as a student and by Intel to give him an internship “changed everything” for the better.
“Hopefully, I can open the door to more people like me,” Quazi said, according to the Times.