Marina Keegan had just graduated from Yale University with a degree in English and was headed off to a job at The New Yorker. On May 26, she died in a car crash near her family's summer home in Massachusetts.
The 22-year-old was an aspiring writer whose work had already drawn national attention. An article she wrote for a Yale student publication about the increasing number of her peers who were entering careers in consulting and finance was adapted for publication in The New York Times. She spoke to NPR about the piece earlier this year.
Yet her most widely circulated work — one that's been shared by hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet in the week after her death — is an essay she wrote for a special edition the Yale Daily News handed out at commencement five days before she died.
In the piece, titled "The Opposite of Loneliness," Keegan wrote about the feeling of fellowship and purpose she found at Yale and told her classmates they shouldn't lose that feeling just because they were graduating.
"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious. 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."
Just months before her death, she shared the same enthusiasm with WSHU's Craig LeMoult for NPR's report.
"I'm just reminded every day how lucky I am just to be surrounded by such smart, interesting, passionate people," Keegan told him. "And one of the things that I've loved about being at Yale is just how enthusiastic people are about everything that they do."
GUY RAZ, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. A week ago, a bright young woman named Marina Keegan was tragically killed in a car crash in Massachusetts. Marina had just graduated from Yale with an English degree and had a job waiting at The New Yorker magazine.
When our staff here heard the news, we were stunned. Just a few months ago, Marina was featured in one of our cover stories. She'd written an article for the Yale student newspaper about the lure of making big money on Wall Street, and she asked her fellow classmates to consider other options.
MARINA KEEGAN: Well, I mean, personally, I hope to be a writer. And so, you know, after graduation, I'm going to be, you know, pursuing that, because I feel like I am compelled personally. And I feel like I have somewhat of a duty to have a more direct impact on the world in a way that isn't just sort of generating wealth.
RAZ: Like so much of Marina's work at Yale, her article was remarkable. It was deeply thoughtful and intelligently reported. It was compassionate and insightful. A version was republished in The New York Times. And at Yale, Marina's work drew the attention of professor and literary critic Harold Bloom.
He told the Yale Daily News he thought of her as a granddaughter. But Marina Keegan's most widely circulated work - one that's now been shared by hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet in the week after her death - is an essay she wrote for a special edition of the Yale Daily News. It was handed out at commencement just days before her death.
It was titled "The Opposite of Loneliness." She wrote about the feeling of fellowship and purpose she found in college, and she told her classmates they shouldn't lose that feeling just because they were graduating.
KEEGAN: There's so many people here and so many of my friends who - I'm just reminded every day how lucky I am to be surrounded by such smart, interesting, passionate people. And one of the things that I've loved about being at Yale is just how enthusiastic people are about everything that they do.
RAZ: Marina Keegan. She died last Saturday at the age of 22. Her parents have established a memorial fund to benefit young writers at Yale like Marina. You can find more information about that at our website, npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.