Marina Keegan, a budding journalist and playwright, died Saturday, May 26 at the age of 22. The recent Yale graduate left a powerful message to young consumers. Be leery or Wall Street, she said. Be informed and hang onto to youthful optimism.
Keegan had graduated from Yale only days before the tragic event. She was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her boyfriend, Michael Gocksch, when it was involved in a rollover accident near the Massachusetts town of Dennis. According to the Boston Globe, Keegan was pronounced dead at the scene. Gocksch was taken to a hospital, but did not suffer serious injuries.
Challenging Wall Street recruiters
In an essay earlier posted on the financial site DealBook, Ms. Keegan tried to steer finance students from being indoctrinated into the social Darwinism of Wall Street immediately after graduation. Instead, she urged them to change the playing field.
After turning down glad-handing recruiters from the banking industry, Keegan interviewed her fellow Yale students about their ambitions following graduation.
“Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I think most young, ambitious people want to have a positive impact on the world. Whether it’s through art or activism or advances in science, almost every student I spoke to had some kind of larger, altruistic goal in life. But what I heard again and again was that working at JPMorgan or Bain or Morgan Stanley was the best way to prepare oneself for a future doing public good.
“Why do students believe this? Because the recruiters tell them it’s true. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. Those skills can be gained elsewhere. I’m just not convinced that the most productive use of 25 percent of my graduating class’s time is to spend two or three years pushing figures around spreadsheets to make more money for those with the most money.”
Later, Keegan helped organize an official protest of Wall Street campus recruiting dubbed “Occupy Morgan Stanley.”
Poised to work for New Yorker
Keegan was supposed to begin a new job at the New Yorker on June 11, something she was very much looking forward to. Her mother, Tracy Keegan, told the New York Daily News:
“She was so excited she was going to start work there. That’s all she talked about.”
Keegan had also written a musical play, “Independents,” that is slated to be produced for the New York International Fringe Festival this summer.
Final essay goes viral
Keegan’s final essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” has gone viral. So much more than the graduation speech it somewhat resembles, many Wall Street insiders could benefit from her plea for young consumers to hold onto their drive, altruism and camaraderie.
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.”
As she had done in her previous essay, Keegan urged millennials to change the world, rather than being satisfied with a fat and self-satisfied status quo:
“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over … We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.”
Sadly, such clarity is rare in minds so young. The saddest and most ironic words in the essay are also arguably its most clear-eyed and inspiring:
“We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.”