Who Was Marina Keegan, The Yale Student Journalist Who Took On Wall Street

on May 29 2012 11:03 AM

Marina Keegan, a 22-year-old promising student journalist, died Saturday in car crash in Massachusetts just days after graduating from Yale University. She had gained recognition after publishing a piece in the New York Times strongly critical of Wall Street. She had snagged a job at the New Yorker as an editorial assistant and was to move into a Brooklyn apartment this week to start her new job at the prestigious weekly magazine, the New York Post reported.

She was a passenger in a Lexus driven on Route 6 by Michael Gocksch, a 22-year old from New York state, the Boston Globe reported. Keegan was pronounced dead at the scene while Gocksch was transported to Cape Cod Hospital and listed in stable condition.

I just can't believe she's gone, her mother, Tracy Keegan, told the Post. She truly could not have been more excited and happy about getting to embrace the world beyond her college education and it's nothing less than a crime that she's not being given that opportunity.

Taking On Wall Street

Though Keegan's death was only covered briefly on the Boston Globe's website, there was much more to tell about the young writer who wrote a piece for the New York Times explaining why she disliked that Wall Street tried to recruit her and other classmates with the promise of the greatest job, the most money, the easiest application, the fanciest popcorn.

They're good at it. They're unbelievably, remarkably, terrifyingly good at it, she wrote. Every year around 25 percent of employed Yale graduates enter the consulting and finance industries. At Harvard and Stanford, the numbers are even higher.

Keegan argued that many young people want to have a positive impact on the world. She said interviews conducted with students showed that they have an altruistic goal in life. However, Keegan said she was hearing that working at places such as JPMorgan or Bain or Morgan Stanley was the best way to prepare oneself for a future doing public good.

Is working for a bank inherently evil? Probably not, she wrote. 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.

Twenty-five percent is not a joke. That's a lot of people, she added. That's a lot of talent and energy and potential that could be used somewhere other than crunching numbers to generate wealth. Perhaps there won't be fancy popcorn at some other job - but it's about time we started popping it for ourselves.

James Lu and Daniel Sisgoreo wrote a piece for Yale Daily News on Sunday in which they said Keegan distinguished herself as a leader across disciplines.

Keegan was an English major. She served as president of the Yale College Democrats and organized Occupy Wall Street protests on campus.

A commencement speech she wrote was posted on Yale Daily News over the weekend, and in it Keegan wrote about living life to the fullest and making a positive impact in the world.

Keegan shared with her peers how scared she felt leaving behind a group where she felt loved and safe, and not being able to live on the same block as all her friends.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse - I'm scared of losing this web we're in, she wrote.

Still, Keegan wrote that the best years of life were not behind. Instead, those years were a part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up.

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, Keegan continued. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don't have to lose that.

Read Keegan's full speech here.

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