Sanjay and Jayshree Desai P’19

The Desai family: dad, son and mom
Pictured: Sanjay, Devan, and Jayshree Desai

If you ask the Desai Family, supporting student scholarships in order to alleviate the burden of financial worries is “just the right thing to do.”

Although their son, Devan, graduated in 2019, Sanjay and Jayshree Desai say that Occidental’s impact on all of their lives remains strong. For the past two years, the family has generously supported a Day for Oxy challenge, driving fundraising by offering to give a particular amount once a certain number of others donate.

In 2022, the Desai’s challenge gift went directly toward student scholarships, with the goal of ensuring “that any student who wants to attend Oxy can, without the burdens of financial worry.” More specifically, the gift supports underrepresented students at Oxy. The Desais have taken a keen interest in the student loan crisis in the U.S. and feel that supporting students with financial need as they pursue a high-quality education is “just the right thing to do.”

“We could give all the standard reasons as to why this is important, but we think it’s that simple—to just help and do the right thing,” Sanjay says.

As a student, Devan made the most of his time at the College, and in addition to his classwork, he was involved in both the Economics Student Association and the South Asian Student Association. One summer he did community outreach through the Los Angeles Mayor’s office, and he also enjoyed playing intramural sports.

Devan and his parents were drawn to Occidental due to its distinct liberal arts character, its small classes that lead to more interactive discussions, and the kind of high-touch education it offers—one that benefits students for a lifetime.

“We wanted Devan to have a liberals arts education that focused on developing his written communication and critical thinking skills,” Sanjay explains. “We saw a significant improvement in these skills for Devan over that four-year period.”

Through their commitment, the Desais are now able to pay it forward and help other students gain access to the same academic and extracurricular experiences that their son enjoyed.