A man that was unable to read or write until he turned 18 has become Cambridge University’s youngest-ever black Professor.
According to information, Professor Jason Arday was told he would likely spend his adulthood in assisted living after he was diagnosed with autism and remaining speechless till he was 11.
The 37-year-old man from Clapham, London spent years getting “violently rejected” when he initially started writing academically.
He is now an acclaimed professor that will take up one of the most valuable professorship posts in the world – Professor of Sociology of Education at Cambridge.
Also, he will be one of five Black Professors at the University and one of 155 Black University Professors in the United Kingdom from a total of 23,000.
He said: “My work focuses primarily on how we can open doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and truly democratize higher education.
“Hopefully being in a place like Cambridge will provide me with the leverage to lead that agenda nationally and globally.”
After he learnt how to read and write as a teenager, he became a PE teacher, which offered him an insight into the systemic inequalities that children can encounter in education.
He knew he desired to study further, but was lost as he received no help on how to establish his own path.
When he was 27, he wrote on his bedroom wall at his parents’ house: “One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge.”
He remembers his college mentor, Sandro Sandi, saying to him, “I think you can do this – I think we can take on the world and win.”
That statement triggered his belief and he became “determined and focused.”
He was still working as a PE teacher during the day but he wrote papers and read by night.
He said: “When I started writing academic papers, I had no idea what I was doing.
“I did not have a mentor and no one ever showed me how to write. Everything I submitted got violently rejected.
“The peer review process was so cruel, it was almost funny, but I treated it as a learning experience and, perversely, began to enjoy it.”
After years of dedication, Professor Arday possesses two master’s degrees and a PhD in educational studies.
He has worked at the University of Glasgow and the University of Durham, and he is an adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela University.
He will resume at the University of Cambridge on March 6 as a Professor of Sociology of Education in the Faculty of Education.
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