This weekend, 14-year-old Kairan Quazi is set to make history as the youngest graduate from California's Santa Clara University, with an engineering degree in hand. The teen says his age did have its drawbacks, like not being able to join an engineering fraternity, but he still considers the last few years to be the happiest of his life.
Kairan’s parents, Mustahid and Jullia Quazi, say they struggled raising a child prodigy. Julia confesses to feeling like they were "failing as parents" as they struggled to understand and support Kairan and they faced a lot of criticism over allowing him to start college at nine years old. But their son thrived in the college environment and earned praise from his professors. Kairan says he's excited to see how his future plans will help society.
"Think of the benefits in let's say, precision farming, where satellite images can be used to help farmers with managing crop yields and monitoring water levels," Kairan says. "So the utilitarian idea of working on technology that has the greatest good for the greatest number really aligns with my personal values."
Despite his accomplishments, Kairan says being a young engineer in Silicon Valley is challenging, with recruiters often dismissing him due to his age. But, driven by his desire to "disrupt the status quo," he applied for 98 jobs and eventually landed a coveted gig with SpaceX as a software engineer on their Starlink program. Even though it hasn’t been all roses, Kairan views his journey as "a net positive" and feels like he’s fortunate to have such a "cool story" at this point in his life.