In a 2011 New York Times essay, Yale University senior Marina Keegan encouraged her peers not to settle for lucrative Wall Street jobs if their true dreams were elsewhere because she didn’t want them to squander their talent.
“… [S]tudents here have passion. Passion for public service and education policy and painting and engineering and entrepreneurialism,” Keegan wrote. “Standing outside a freshman dorm, I couldn’t find a single student aspiring to be a banker — but at commencement this May, there’s a 50 per cent chance I’ll be sitting next to one. This strikes me as incredibly sad.”
Six months later, Keegan died in a car accident when her boyfriend lost control of the car he was driving. She had graduated magna cum laude from Yale days before and was preparing to move for a job at The New Yorker.
According to Keegan’s grieving parents, the world has lost an ambitious and idealistic writer. “By taking her hand and putting her pen to paper, or her fingertips to the computer, she would take things that wouldn’t make sense to her, or that she felt needed attention, and use her beautiful, amazing intellect toward trying to make a difference in the few short years she was here,” Keegan’s mother told The New York Daily News.
Despite her death, Keegan’s inspiring writings will still be able to reach a broader audience. Scribner is publishing a book of her essays and stories, called “The Opposite of Loneliness,” which will be released on Amazon Tuesday, April 8.
Keegan originally wrote the book’s fiction and nonfiction content for writing classes and student publications. The book’s title essay originally appeared in a special edition of Yale Daily News distributed after her death.
In that essay, Keegan emphasised that it is never too late for her peers to do the things they love, even if it means starting over to do it. “The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious,” she wrote. “We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”
In the introduction to “The Opposite of Loneliness,” Yale English professor Anne Fadiman wrote that unlike many students Keegan embraced her youthfulness.
“Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful,” Fadiman wrote. “When she read her work aloud around our seminar table, it would make us snort with laughter, and then it would turn on a dime and break our hearts.”
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