Kushal Dev swung, sang, danced, and built a textbook library
In his first two years at Yale, Kushal Dev was affectionately called the “Swing Guy” because he spent so much time on the Silliman College courtyard swing.
He still loves that swing, but he’s since earned additional renown in the college as founder of the Silliman Textbook Library — a communal space housing over 1,000 textbooks that can be used by Yale students who can’t afford them.
After struggling to access an especially expensive economics textbook himself, Dev decided to do something to help fellow students who found their textbooks financially prohibitive. A friend, former Yale College Council president Peter Huang ’18, had once touted the idea of a textbook library. Dev brought the idea to fruition by soliciting donations from fellow students, alumni, and others at Yale, receiving an initial donation of some 600 books. The books, initially kept in the Acorn — Silliman College’s coffee shop — were moved this year to a dedicated space in the residential college’s library.
“Students can use them at any time for free,” said Dev. “Many of the students who use them are first-generation or low-income students. This year, I had the experience of getting to design the space in the library. I never got to finish that work because of the campus shutdown, but it’s been really reassuring to see how our community wanted to help.”
A political science major, Dev is interested in the intersection of technology, pop culture, and politics, as well as in racial and queer politics. His extracurricular passions included singing in the a cappella group Out of the Blue and performing in Yale Movement, a K-Pop and urban dance group. One of his favorite memories is of a day when both groups had shows on the same night.
“I was also doing six credits at the time, so I was overwhelmed academically,” he said. “But it was exciting to run between the groups to celebrate how hard everyone worked. I knew that day that I wanted to make music and performance a part of my future.”
In March, Dev wrote a Yale Daily News op-ed about leaving campus prematurely. The piece, called “The Opposite of Togetherness,” is modelled on a widely acclaimed essay by late Yale student Marina Keegan ’12 called “The Opposite of Loneliness.” Dev was touched to hear from Keegan’s mother, Tracy Shoolman, after its publication.
He will spend the summer working in marketing for a skin care company, and hopes to have a longer-term career at the intersection of pop culture and political activism.
He said he graduates from Yale with greater confidence in himself than when he arrived.
“I have come to believe that — whether my wildest dreams or everyday tasks — I’m capable of accomplishing things even if they are hard,” Dev said.