Aditya Desai ‘09

Our featured alumnus is Aditya Desai, ‘09, a former English major who is now a Program Officer for Literature at Maryland Humanities and pursuing a PhD in English Studies at Old Dominion University. Read more about his experience at UMBC and his journey through graduate school below:

The creation and reception of literature have always fascinated me, and writing has always been the most effective way I can think. While “literary career” sounds like a paradox these days, but it’s all I’ve done since. I like to say if it involves books, I’ve probably gotten paid for it.

I graduated as an English major in 2009, with a minor in Creative Writing (shout out to Sally Shivnan for nurturing those first steps). With opportunities bare in the Great Recession, I applied to the Creative Writing MFA at University of Maryland College Park.

While it’s not a “career” move, the program put me in a community of people who were producing, creating, and critiquing literature, and opened up pathways I’ve followed since. Professionally, I spent ten years hopping universities across Maryland as an adjunct instructor (including UMBC for four years). I’ve also had stints at libraries, nonprofits, and publishing houses. Creatively, I continue to write, edit, publish and produce programs and events.

Today, I get to bring all of these experiences together as the Program Officer for Literature at Maryland Humanities. I run programs across the state, most notably One Maryland One Book, that focuses on how literature can be a space of critical thinking and community engagement. In 2023, I also became a student again at Old Dominion University, where I’m pursuing a PhD in English Studies.