This month, 37-year-old Jason Arday set a record by becoming the youngest-ever Black professor at the famous Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. According to Arday, Black professors holding positions in these kinds of institutions all across the world should become the norm.

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Who is Jason Arday?

Jason Arday, a well-known sociologist who didn’t talk until he was 11, is now the youngest Black professor at Cambridge University at the age of 37.

Jason, who similarly didn’t learn to read or write until the age of 18, was apparently written off by specialists when he was just 3 years old after being identified as having an autism spectrum disease and a global developmental delay.

“You wake up in the morning, and no one knows who you are, apart from your contemporaries,” he says. “Then you find yourself in a situation where everyone does!”

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Jason overcame his hardship with the help of his Ghanaian mother Gifty, a mental health nurse, his close pals Chantelle Lewis and Sandro Sandri, as well as Enya’s music.

“There was a lot of music played in my house to explain the use of sounds. She would say: ‘This is what a river sounds like’. Or: ‘If I were to speak to explain what a river sounds like, these are the words I might use.’ Those thousands of hours she spent with me, sacrificing and forsaking her own career, were all worth it.”

When Jason reached 11 years old, all of this prompted a touching moment. According to Arday, “I pull my hearing aid out and the first word I actually said was: ‘Hello’. And I used it in the right context! My mum was like: ‘What did you say??’ And I said it again.”

Jason had utilized sign language and had spent the majority of his youth working with speech and language therapists up to that point.

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Jason completed GCSEs in physical education and textiles, a BTEC, a first-class degree in PE and education studies, and then two master’s degrees. One was for a PGCE to teach physical education. Also, he earned a Ph.D. from Liverpool John Moores University.

After working to solve the dearth of Black and Brown students in higher education at the universities of Durham and Glasgow, Jason eventually became a professor of sociology of education.

He added, “I want to help as many people as possible, and always find ways to illuminate their brilliance.”