London: Jason Arday has created history by becoming the youngest Black professor at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. His journey is all the more remarkable because he was illiterate until an adult; Arday, 37, couldn’t read or write till 18. Also diagnosed with autism and global development delay – he couldn’t even speak till he was 11, BBC reported.
Born and raised in south-west London’s Clapham, he told BBC he has been deeply moved by suffering around him since his formative years. “I remember thinking if I don’t make it as a football player or a professional snooker player, then I want to save the world,” he said.
Anday’s mother played an important role in boosting his self-confidence. She introduced him to a wide range of music, hoping it would help him. It did and it also sparked an interest in popular culture and shaped some of his research; Arday is a sociologist.
With the help of mentor and friend Sandro Sandri, Arday began to read in his late teens and got a degree in Physical Education and Education Studies from the University of Surrey.
At 22, he sought to study for a postgraduate degree but noted systemic inequalities that minorities face in the education system, and challenges many face in becoming an academic.
“I did not have a mentor and no-one ever showed me how to write… everything I submitted got violently rejected,” he said. Undaunted, though, he went on to acquire two Masters and a PhD in educational studies.
There are, at present, five black people, serving as professors at the university, the BBC said.