Jason Arday, 37, becomes youngest black professor at Cambridge University despite not being able to read or write until he was 18 years old.
Jason Arday resumed at Cambridge Faculty of Education as a Professor of Sociology of Education in March 2023.
Arday, one of four children, was born and raised in the south London neighborhood of Clapham. He was diagnosed with global development delay and an autism spectrum disorder at age 3. As a result, he worked closely with speech and language therapists as a child and used sign language until he was 11 years old. He shocked everyone, even though it was expected that he would need care his entire life.
In his childhood days,he once wrote on his mother’s bedroom wall, “One day I will work at Oxford or Cambridge.”
After receiving two GCSEs in physical education and textiles, Arday pursued a BTEC at college. He subsequently completed his first degree in physical education and education studies before pursuing two master’s degrees, a PGCE to become a physical education teacher, and a doctorate at Liverpool John Moores University.
To pay for his studies, he held part-time jobs at Boots and Sainsbury’s.
Ardey hopes that by discussing his extraordinary journey, which will officially begin next month when he accepts a position as a professor of sociology of education at Cambridge, more people from disadvantaged backgrounds may be inspired to pursue a higher education.
“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.”
In addition, he has worked both solely and collaboratively on a number of books, including ones that examine the origins of structural racism in higher education and the ‘Cool Britannia’ phenomena of the 1990s from the viewpoint of an ethnic minority.
Being a trustee for the British Sociological Association and the Runnymede Trust, two of the UK’s foremost think tanks on racial equality, Arday also has the titles of Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has been asked to assist in developing anti-racism measures by a number of organizations, including the UK government and the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.