Jason Arday, a 37-year-old sociologist diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and global development delay when he was a child, becomes the youngest Black professor at the University of Cambridge.
Growing up, Arday, born and raised in Clapham in London, has struggled with significant delays in his cognitive and physical abilities due to a genetic condition. He couldn’t speak and only used sign language until he was 11 years old, and he couldn’t read or write until he was 18 years old. His family was even told he would likely need lifelong support.
Despite all that, Arday refused to give up and wanted to satisfy his curiosity about the world. He was supported by his family as well as his mentor, college tutor, and friend, Sandro Sandri.
He attended college at the University of Surrey, where he received a degree in PE and education studies before earning two master’s qualifications. He did not stop there and continued with his postgraduate studies while also working as a PE lecturer in higher education.
After acquiring his PhD, Arday had his first paper published in 2018 and became one of the youngest professors in the entire UK in 2021 as he worked as a professor of sociology of education at the University of Glasgow’s School of Education.
Most recently, he is set to become the youngest-ever Black professor at Cambridge, joining just five other Black professors at the university.
“My work focuses primarily on how we can open doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and truly democratise higher education,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “Hopefully, being in a place like Cambridge will provide me with the leverage to lead that agenda nationally and globally.”