Cambridge University’s Youngest Black Professor Was Illiterate Until His Teenagers.
20 years later, Cambridge University’s youngest Black professor is an autistic teenager who couldn’t read or write until his late teens.
Jason Arday had global developmental delay as a toddler, impairing his speech and reading.
Therapists expected he would live in assisted living and need lifelong help.
The 37-year-old is the youngest Black person to hold a major university position.
He had many questions despite growing up in Clapham, London, with a learning handicap.
Arday, a sociology professor, wondered: “Why are some individuals homeless?” Why war? ”
“I wanted to save the world if I didn’t make it as a football player.”
After studying at Surrey University, he taught PE.
He wanted to study but had little supervision.
“The peer review process was brutal, almost comical, but I took it as a learning experience.”
“One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge,” he scribbled on his parents’ bedroom wall at 27.
‘I think you can do this – I think we can take on the world and win,’ his college friend Sandro Sandi told him.
I first believed in myself then.
“A lot of academics say they stumbled into this line of work, but from that moment I was determined and focused—I knew this would be my goal.”
He became an esteemed professor with two master’s degrees and a PhD in educational studies from Liverpool John Moores University by writing papers and studying at night while teaching PE.
In 2015, he co-edited the Runnymede Trust report “Aiming Higher” on racial and ethnic inequality in British universities.
2018 saw his first solo paper.
In the same year, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at Roehampton University and Associate Professor of Sociology at Durham University.
He became one of the UK’s youngest professors at Glasgow University’s Faculty of Education.
He has written books and will begin teaching sociology of education at Cambridge on March 6, trying to encourage underrepresented students to attend college. Arday joins five other Black professors.
My work is focused on democratizing higher education and opening opportunities to more underprivileged people.
I hope Cambridge will help me lead that agenda domestically and worldwide.
He may save the world—or his part of it.