Man Who Couldn’t Read Until 18 Is Now Cambridge’s Youngest Black Professor

A 37-year-old man has become the youngest Black professor at Cambridge University in England despite not being able to read or write until he was 18.

According to People, sociology of education professor Jason Arday was diagnosed with global development delay and autism spectrum disorder as a child and couldn’t even speak until age 11.

Arday was told less than eight years ago that he would need lifelong support and to be housed in assisted living. Still, he continued to pursue his goals, one of which was to “work at Oxford or Cambridge,” the No. 2 university in the world.

After successfully earning a Ph.D. from Liverpool John Moores University, Sandro Sandi, a friend and mentor, encouraged Arday to pursue a career in academia.

“I think you can do this,” he told Arday, per The Times. “I think we can take on the world and win.”

Arday published his first paper in 2018 and soon after landed a position at the University of Glasgow’s School of Education. On March 6, he will begin his position as the youngest Black professor at Cambridge University.

“As optimistic as I am, there’s just no way I could have thought that would have happened. If I was a betting person, the odds on it were so long. It’s just mad,” Arday told The Times. “When I started writing academic papers, I had no idea what I was doing. I did not have a mentor and no one ever showed me how to write. Everything I submitted got violently rejected. The peer review process was so cruel, it was almost funny, but I treated it as a learning experience and, perversely, began to enjoy it.”

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