Promising writer, Yale grad Marina Keegan dies in weekend car accident

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Marina Keegan died Saturday in a car accident in Dennis, Mass. She was 22. Keegan had just graduated from Yale University and was due to start a job at The New Yorker in early June. She was planning to spend part of the weekend revising her musical "Independents," which was being revived at the New York International Fringe Festival, her mother told the Daily News.

Keegan's writing career was well under way at the time of her death. She wrote op-eds for the Yale Daily News, had a short story presented on NPR's "Selected Shorts" and had written a guest piece in The New York Times, a DealBook article about why she resented investment banks recruiting her and her classmates so heavily -- 25 percent of Yale seniors would become financiers or consultants, she lamented.

Is working for a bank inherently evil? Probably not. But the fact that such a large percentage of students at top-tier schools enter an industry that isn’t contributing, creating or improving much of anything saddens me.

Keegan last column for the Yale Daily News was about leaving behind the camaraderie and inherent possibilities of undergraduate life.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

At school, James Lu and Daniel Sisgoreo write in the Yale Daily News, Keegan was known for her political activism as well. Professor Anne Fadiman remembered her confronting a speaker:

Fadiman first encountered Keegan at a Master’s Tea in fall 2010, when Keegan, then a junior, challenged author Mark Helprin after he told audience members not to pursue writing careers because of their low likelihood of success.

“I just remember this beautiful, articulate woman standing up and clearly not willing to be cowed by this famous writer, contradicting him, speaking up, declaring her determination to try, declaring her determination to ignore his discouraging words,” Fadiman said.

In a column last September, Keegan wrote about the tendency of each generation to think it's more special than others. She reminded her friends that someday the sun was going to go out. With that in mind, she was making some alternate plans, she wrote.

I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outwards, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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