Little did 22-year-old Marina Keegan know the impact an essay she wrote for a special graduation edition of the Yale Daily News would have on the Yale class of 2012, and others. Just days after students and faculty read her testimony to life, she died in a car crash in Massachusetts.
And now her essay, ”The Opposite of Loneliness,” with the heart-wrenching line “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re 22 years old. We have so much time” has gone viral. Read the essay.
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale,” she wrote. “How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that. We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.”
Keegan, an English major with a writing concentration, died May 26 when she and her boyfriend, Michael Gocksch, were en route to Cape Cod. He lost control of the Lexus, hit a guardrail, spun across the road to hit the opposite guardrail, then rolled over twice. Gocksch was uninjured, but Keegan died at the scene.
“I can honestly tell you that she was one of the most extraordinary and bright and gifted young women I have ever had the honor to know,” Elizabeth Zierah, a friend of Keegan’s family, told ABCNews.com. ”And her writing was stupendous.
“My husband and I had gone with her mom to New York when Marina had one her plays staged at the International Festival. We were so impressed with her – and we are both independent documentary filmmakers. We see a lot of talented people and kids, and she was something unusual.”
In addition to playwrighting, Keegan had made a film called “Independents,” which is slated for the New York Fringe Festival this summer. Keegan also blogged for The New Yorker and was soon to begin work at the weekly as an editorial assistant. She had planned to live in an apartment with friends in Brooklyn.
“She was so excited she was going to start work there, that’s all she talked about,” her mother, Tracy Keegan, of Wayland, Mass., told the New York Daily News.
According to numerous news reports, Keegan, who served as president of the Yale Young Democrats, had been active in Yale’s Occupy Wall Street movement, and had contributed stories to The New York Times and National Public Radio.
In an article for the Times last November, she wrote about college recruiters:
“When I arrived at Yale as an eager 18-year-old, I had never even heard of consulting or I-banking. And to be honest, I still didn’t totally understand the function of a hedge fund. But what I do understand is that students here have passion. Passion for public service and education policy and painting and engineering and entrepreneurialism. 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 percent chance I’ll be sitting next to one. This strikes me as incredibly sad.”
In her essay to the Yale graduates that has now caught the hearts of many across the Internet, Keegan wrote that leaving the university and entering the real world “scares me.
“More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in,” she wrote. “This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.”