A man who did not read or write until his late teens becomes Cambridge University's youngest black professor

B.R. Shenoy

Cambridge UniversityPhoto byalexxis from Pixabay

Jason Arday, 37, a highly respected scholar of race, inequality, and education, has been appointed as the youngest Black professor ever at the University of Cambridge. However, his path to success was not an easy one.

At age three, he was diagnosed with global development delay and autism spectrum disorder and did not learn to speak until he was 11. He did not learn to read or write until age 18.

Growing up in south London, much of his childhood was spent with speech and language therapists, and his family was told he would need lifelong support. Despite these challenges, Arday defied expectations and achieved a BTec and a degree in PE and Education.

After gaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and a Ph.D. in Education from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), where he also worked as a lecturer, Arday became a Professor at Glasgow University.

His work focuses on democratizing higher education and opening doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Arday credits LJMU with launching his academic career and describes Liverpool as where it all began. He returned to LJMU as a speaker for a Black History Month event in November 2021. He praised the university for encouraging him to push his boundaries of knowledge and understanding.

His former supervisor, Professor Phil Vickerman, describes Arday as having "enthusiasm, grit, and determination to make a difference" and being held in high esteem nationally and internationally.

Arday hopes his appointment at Cambridge will inspire others from underrepresented backgrounds to progress into higher education. He believes that his extraordinary story can help to eradicate the suffering of Black and Minority Ethnic academics in the Academy and that being in a place like Cambridge will provide him with the leverage to lead that agenda nationally and globally.

Per The Times:

”He starts next month as professor of sociology of education, joining just five other black professors at the institution. They are among only 155 black university professors in the UK, out of a total of 23,000.”

Closing Thoughts

Arday's inspiring story shows that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work and determination, no matter how great the obstacles may seem. His appointment as a professor at Cambridge is a personal triumph and a testament to the power of education to transform lives and create a more just and equitable society.

We can all learn from Arday's example, strive to overcome adversity in our lives and work towards a better future for all.

What are your thoughts on this inspiring young man? Let us know in the comments.

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