Say hello to Professor Arday!
Jason Arday, who was unable to read and write until the age of 18, is now the youngest professor at Cambridge University, The Guardian reports.
Born and raised in Clapham, South London, Arday was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, using sign language until the age of 11. After being told by therapists and career advisors that we would need to seek care through assisted living, he became determined to prove them wrong.
Despite his disability, Arday worked hard; he earned a degree at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England and worked as a physical education teacher. Matriculating at the college wasn’t easy for him. “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,” he told WalesOnline.
His writing skills grew, and he went on to acquire two masters degrees before pushing forward to pursue a Ph.D. in education. During the course of his studies, he wrote three life goals on his mother's bedroom wall, one of them stating, "One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge." After co-editing a report about racial and ethnic inequalities, his journey as a lecturer and associate professor began.
Out of 23,000 professors in the U.K., only 155 are Black with only five Black professors at Cambridge University. On March 6th, 37-year-old Arday will join them as Professor of Sociology of Education.
As an educator at Cambridge, Arday wants students to be inspired by his story and impact those who struggled in the same areas as him. He said in a statement, "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.”
Professor Arday is not only changing the narrative, but he’s showing that having a disability doesn't have to stop you from reaching your goals.
“A lot of academics say they stumbled into this line of work, but from that moment I was determined and focused – I knew that this would be my goal. On reflection, this is what I meant to do.”
You’ve got the right idea, professor. Continue to be an inspiration!