He was awarded a four-year academic merit scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was the Haywood W.
After being accepted and planning to attend college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Desai auditioned for and was accepted as a member of the UNC Clef Hangers, a long-standing male a cappella group founded in 1977.
Desai served as the group's music director during his junior year and as the group's president his senior year.
Desai made American Idol history by being the first ever 13th finalist on American Idol.
Favored to win by celebrities including Ellen De Generes and Keith Urban, Desai achieved a sixth-place finish, becoming the second Indian American to advance to the final stages of American Idol.