From Speechless to Cambridge Professor: The Triumph of Jason Arday.

by Adeola Adeyeye
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Jason Arday

A 37-year-old sociologist named Jason Arday has made history as the youngest-ever Black professor at Cambridge University. Jason had a challenging childhood, as he was unable to speak, read, or write until the ages of 11 and 18, respectively.

He was diagnosed with global developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder, and experts had written him off when he was just three years old.

However, Jason overcame these obstacles thanks to the support of his Ghanaian mother, Gifty, a mental health nurse, his close friends Sandro Sandri and Chantelle Lewis, and the music of Enya, which helped him understand and use sounds. His mother often played Enya’s music in the house and used it to explain the sounds of things like rivers.

Reflecting on his journey, Jason Arday said,

all of those things, those thousands of hours she spent with me, sacrificing and forsaking her own career, were all worth it. He explained that he used snooker as a way to fixate on something and find stability through repetition.

Despite his struggles, Jason gained qualifications in PE and textiles, a first-class degree in PE and education studies, and two master’s qualifications. He then went on to earn a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University, all while working part-time jobs at Sainsbury’s and Boots.

Now, as a professor of sociology of education at Cambridge, Jason Arday hopes to address the lack of Black and Brown people in higher education and help others find ways to illuminate their brilliance.

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