By Gabriella Levine
On this past Memorial Day weekend, Marina Keegan, a 22-year-old woman who had just graduated from Yale University on May 21, died in a car crash in Cape Cod.
Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a concentration in writing five days before her death.
According to Yale’s student newspaper, the Yale Daily News, Keegan was known to the campus community as a “prolific writer, actress and activist.”
Keegan was actively involved at Yale, serving as a staff writer on the News, a member of the Yale Occupy Movement and as president of the Yale College Democrats.
Yale Daily News noted that friends and professors recognized that Keegan had a keen talent for writing: “In her writing, Keegan captured the concerns of her generation.” She had a job awaiting her at The New Yorker as an editorial assistant.
The story of Marina Keegan’s death is a tragedy that is made even more heart-rending by the last column that Keegan wrote for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness.”
In this column, which was distributed in a special edition of the News at the 2012 commencement, Keegan expressed her sadness and reluctance to leave Yale’s tight knit campus community: “This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.”
Despite her fears of leaving the familiar sphere of her college campus and entering the unknown realm of the real world, Keegan chose to remain positive about the prospect of her future and the futures of all graduating college students.
“But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old,” Keegan wrote.
Keegan’s encouraging words of wisdom are at once strikingly optimistic and tragic. She will never have a chance to experience her vision of a future with endless possibilities.
Keegan’s last column speaks to all college students and graduates throughout the nation, urging and reminding us to take advantage of the opportunities that we have.
As part of her message to the graduates at Yale, Keegan wrote, “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.”
Her death reminds us that, sometimes, our time is cut short.
In honor of Marina Keegan, we mustn’t forget nor take for granted the time that we have at Union, or the possibilities that await us in the future. If Keegan’s story teaches us anything, it’s that our time is precious, and we are privileged and lucky to wake up each day with the chance to make the best of it.
As Keegan wisely said, “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.”