Man who was illiterate until the age of 18 becomes Cambridge University professor
A man who could not speak until age 11 and only learned to read and write after turning 18 has become Cambridge University's youngest ever Black professor.
Jason Arday, now 37, will start at the university next month as Professor of Sociology of Education in the Faculty of Education.
Arday faced several challenges early in his life after being diagnosed with global development delay and autism spectrum disorder. His therapists had predicted that he would need lifelong support in an assisted living home.
However, he proved everyone wrong by becoming University of Cambridge's youngest Black professor and one of five at the university. According to reports, there are just 155 Black university professors in the UK, out of 23,000.
To prove his therapists and doctors wrong, he had written a list of goals on his mother's bedroom wall. One of them was, "One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge."
He finally learned how to read and write in his teenage years and then went on to become a PE teacher after studying at the University of Surrey.
He said he was 'violently rejected' at the beginning of his pursuit of teaching higher education. But with a lot of hard work, he is now a professor at the #2 ranked university in the world.
Arday, despite sing sign language to communicate, earned two master's qualificatoons, a postgraduate certificate in education to become a PE teacher, and a PhD from Liverpool John Moores University, according to People.
The much-need help and encouragement needed to pursue a career in academics came from his friend and mentor, Sandro Sandi, according to a report by The Times.
Arday went on to publish his first paper in 2018 and secired roles at two universities in England.
He became of the youngest professors in the UK after landing a job at the University of Glasgow's School of Education
Talking to My London about his achievements and future goals, Arday said: "My work focuses primarily on how we can open doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and truly democratise higher education. Hopefully being in a place like Cambridge will provide me with the leverage to lead that agenda nationally and globally."
He added: "Obviously unpicking a long history in which Cambridge has been, or seemed, very exclusive is difficult. There are now lots of pockets of good practice, but culturally this needs to extend throughout the entire university.”