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Dear Deirdre – Thank You for Being Awesome

Our Letters to the Editor – By Oppy Staff

During the lockdown, it can be easy to lose touch with the day to day dealings of our friends. Everyone we know is stuck in Zoom classes at their parent’s house, right? Either that or working from home around the country. But this is not entirely true. There are some among us at Stern who are true heroes; not only are they continuing to go to work keeping us healthy and alive, but are taking on extra hours and additional jobs to fight the pandemic.

In fact, the Oppy staff is proud to highlight that our very own Editor-in-Chief, Deirdre Keane, is not just our fearless leader but one of these fearless healthcare workers. In addition to her exceptional work as a Nurse Practitioner in the Pediatric ICU at Memorial Sloan Kettering, she has taken on extra hours at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx to fight the virus. At time of writing, she also spent her weekend volunteering at a food drive. All this on top of classes and, of course, wrangling the rest of us here at the Oppy. In honor of Deirdre’s incredible work, each of us offered our personal thanks celebrating her awesomeness.

James Prager – International Editor 

I met Deirdre in Tiananmen Square, of all places, just as we were walking into the Forbidden City as a part of DBi China. Not sure what to expect from this Langoner in a sundress who had missed the welcome happy hour (shockingly, in retrospect), I was happy to discover she was warm and friendly with an easy laugh. Over the course of our trip, I discovered that my new friend, the hard drinking, fun-loving, Great Wall “exploring,” part-time student I was getting to know was also a stone-cold, overachieving badass. I uncovered this slowly at first, impressive piece by impressive piece. “She’s a nurse, very cool. She runs every morning at the hotel gym, very dedicated. A doctorate, too? Wow, our very own Dr. Nurse. Pediatric oncology!? Wait, she ran 10 miles this morning? We were out until like 5am last night!” I was learning that Deirdre Keane, DNP, FNP-BC, NP-C, EiC, is as inspiring as she is fun, warm, and, frankly, badass.

Deirdre is hands down the hardest working person I know. Everything she tackles, she tackles with an all-or-nothing mentality. She has run almost as many marathons as years she has lived, and would probably have added another three if it weren’t for the pandemic. Speaking of running, she runs the ten miles to the hospital where she works each day. And I complain about my 15 minute walk to Stern!  At work she spends her day saving sick children suffering from illnesses that only haunt our nightmares. And that’s when she heads to class. 

Us fulltimers feel tired just thinking about a night class. Langoners solemnly lecture about the difficulty of balancing group projects in between free meals at Facebook. Meanwhile, Deirdre is coming off a 12 hour shift, or heading into one – where, remember, she is saving children’s lives! And with the crisis, she has started volunteering her downtime caring for Covid19 patients in the worst-hit hospital in the city. Leave some heroics for the rest of us, Deirdre! When do you even do your homework?

The best part is Deirdre still has fun – a lot of fun. In the time it took me to settle on a supermarket in Spain, she partied in Rio, explored (and got trapped in) Morocco, and attended a wedding in Ireland. And speaking of Spain, over goodbye beers with Deirdre before my departure, I mentioned that I was looking for someone to take over the school newspaper that had fallen into my lap. She jumped at the opportunity like a quarantined instragrammer on a sourdough starter. Six months onward and she has made this paper a blast to read and even more fun to write for. And she’s a great friend – always there to listen and encourage, down to party like there aren’t 12 hours of work tomorrow, and generous enough to write glowing features about her friends at Stern.

The final day of our China trip sums Deirdre up pretty well. After a night of bottle service at David Beckam’s shark tank skyscraper club in Shanghai, she got up before anyone else, ran a 10k, and headed to the airport. She did her homework on the flight and landed, not in New York, but in Montreal. She arrived just in time for her best friend’s bachelorette party. After a weekend of partying, she finally flew back to New York, dropped her bags at home, and started a 12 hour shift at the hospital. Saving children’s lives. Inspiring, caring, fun, and yes, a badass.

Great Wall, Great Group, Great Editor

David Kalan – Langone Managing Editor

Are you there, Deirdre? It’s me, Dave. Are you tired? You’re probably tired. That’s ok. I’d say you’ve earned a nap. Dealing with all my editorial eccentricities would be exhausting enough if you weren’t literally trying to save people’s lives with most of your free time. But you are literally trying to save people’s lives, which is far more helpful than me sitting on my couch debating if I should watch Too Hot to Handle on Netflix. 

I’m not surprised you’ve responded to a higher calling throughout this turbulent time. I’ve learned very quickly that helping others is just your way. You are the first student I met after enrolling at Stern, and by roping me onto the Oppy Board, you gave me a purpose outside the classroom, a smooth entry into B-School life, and the opportunity to look super important during the Club Fair at Langone Lab. All of that despite the fact that my sarcasm and verbosity probably makes you wish you hadn’t. Weaker souls have fallen to my relentless chattering, but you remain strong even in the face of actual life or death struggles in your day (and night) job, and appear no worse for wear. The only toll this two-ended candle-burning has taken on you is being unable to spell my last name correctly. But if we’re being honest, I can never remember if it’s Deirdre or Dierdre or Dr.dre, and I have no excuse because, again, I have enough free time to consider watching Too Hot to Handle on Netflix. 

I am genuinely in awe of what you do. People like you are the best of us, and without you, I might be quarantined even longer considering whether tawdry reality shows are the best use of my time. Keep up the good fight, and when we’re all past this crisis, mark off some time for a drink with us. I want to hear what it’s like to literally be a hero.

Roberta Fiorito – Alumni Outreach Editor (Chair? idk tbh)

I met Deirdre at my first Oppy meeting, but had some memorable correspondence before then. I had reached out to her in early January when she had called on Sternies to apply for open editorial board and contributing writer positions for the newly reinvigorated Stern graduate school newspaper (now with the additional benefit—er, obstacle?—of being completely online). After many back-and-forths, missed calls and our innate joint ability to schedule and reschedule, she finally set up our interview. I called the number she sent, and someone on the other line was so confused about who I was or what I wanted, and had zero idea what an “oppy” was or who was being “stern.” After giving me a wrong number, the real Deirdre and I finally connected, and I am SO glad we did. She was warm, polite, immensely sorry for her phone number typo in the latest email, and I could already tell I would love to work with this person. 

I recount this somewhat uninteresting story not to bring up a funny conversation with a stranger, but to highlight just how Deirdre is. She is juggling thousands of things at once: school, The Oppy, LSG, friends, family, not to mention her more-than-full-time job as Nurse Practitioner in the Pediatric ICU at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. But she does so with an open-armed friendliness and enthusiasm that is exceptionally endearing. I believe that without her guidance, the Stern Opportunity newspaper, printed for the last 34 years, would be long-forgotten, relegated to occupy that strange gray area of modern-day antiques, to be placed in a glass showcase that line the now-empty hallways of our prestigious school. She has gracefully pioneered this not-so-small task of helming an online paper with a negative (yes, negative) budget, and done so with enough organization to make at least eight board members that rely on her guidance (who also juggle jobs, MBA classes, homework and internships) to really feel passionate about providing a fresh, new and informative perspective on life at Stern and beyond. I only wish my other fellow Sternies were so lucky to come into contact with such a brilliant, kind, and hard-working individual (and those that have will corroborate all that’s written of her here). Thank you, Deirdre. I feel beyond fortunate to have crossed paths with you.

Ray Liang – MBA2 Managing Editor

Indifference. That’s how I would probably describe my relationship with Deirdre after meeting her for the first time on DBi China. In retrospect it sounds like an incredibly cold assessment, but to be fair she was this tall, winsome, unbelievably smart, well dressed individual who I assumed wanted nothing to do with me. She has since revealed to me that she limited her initial interactions with me because she thought I “hated” her. It’s comical now to look back and realize how wrong we both were. 

The truth of the matter is that Deirdre is one of the most impressive people I know. I’m “the eternal student” so it’s usually pretty hard to find someone who collects as many degrees as I do, but her signature line includes seven designations. Seven. And when she graduates from Stern, she’ll have an eighth. I’m sure others will also allude to her insane schedule so I won’t get into too much detail but she somehow manages juggling working night-shifts, being a hard-core runner and an involved MBA student more adeptly than anyone I’ve ever seen. Heck, she’s at Stern more often than some full-timers and it’s literally our only responsibility.

But what makes Deirdre so awe-inspiring to me is her heart. Time after time, I’ve seen how Deirdre puts others before herself. When she was stranded in Morocco, she told me about her hectic experience trying to get on a flight back home, and naturally making friends with a fellow traveler at the airport. Luckily, Deirdre was one of the last people to get a seat on a flight leaving Morocco before it closed its borders, which amidst all the chaos would understandably be the only concern most people would have in such a situation. But not Deirdre — as she watched the plane fill up, she had a sinking feeling that the friend she had made at the airport would not make it onboard. Faith is often all we have in a time of crisis and so she did the only thing she could do: she prayed that there would one more seat for him. Turns out there was.

In yet another example of her goodwill, she recently started a fundraiser combating the worsening social inequalities that have affected poorer communities in the city, as a result of the pandemic. For the next 3 months, Deirdre is pledging to run 1,000 miles, matching every mile she runs with a dollar donation. If you’d like to help her fundraise, please consider donating here: https://opencollective.com/east-bronx-dems/contribute/team-dk-for-the-bx-16619.

Love. Awe. Gratitude. Humanitarian. Life-long friend. These are the words that now come to mind when I think of Deirdre. Thank you for being an amazing human being, Deirdre, and for all you do.

Conor Clark – VP of Relations & Marketing

My first interaction with Deirdre was my “interview” to join the Oppy board. Deirdre has this amazing way about her, that within two questions I knew she would support me and that I would do anything for her in exchange for this compassion. By the end of the 20 minute call she had extracted nearly every relevant detail about my life in New York, and I was somehow holding two board positions. I was not sure how this happened, but I knew I was excited to work with such a captivating personality and scrupulous leader. 

Throughout this whirlwind of a semester I’ve gotten to discover more of the mystery of Deirdre Keane. A modern day Batman, every new detail about Deirdre brings an abundance of new questions. How many nights did she work this week? She’s pursuing an MBA and a Doctorate? She ran how far this morning? How many letters can you fit after your name? Speaking as a compulsive overfunctioning zealot, I found a role model and a leader in Deidre. The courage she shows day in and day out, and the grace and poise she exudes throughout every interaction, keeps my struggles in a rosy and realistic complexion. She’s one of the most positive I’ve met, always the first to spread gratitude and joy. She exemplifies that it’s not happiness that makes you grateful, but gratefulness that makes you happy. And that SMILE. 

I had no idea what I was doing when I joined the Oppy, but that’s Deirdre’s magic, she makes sure you know that you are more than not enough. The support she’s given us has made us all surprise ourselves and hopefully others. We just want to let her know we support her too. Keep up the amazing work Deirdre, you’re an inspiration to us all.

Sanjna Shukla – MBA1 Assistant Managing Editor

Although I met Deirdre just a few short months ago, she is one of the most hardworking, dedicated, and positive people I have ever met. Deirdre comes into each Oppy meeting radiating positivity and is always enthusiastic about all my ideas (even if some aren’t so great). I can never tell if she is coming off a 12-hour shift or is heading into a night shift because she always has so much energy. She (unknowingly) inspires me to work harder, be more active, and do it all with amazing hair and a smile. Although not all of us can be blessed with her amazing hair, we can all learn a little something from Deirdre’s positive outlook.

She has spent countless hours making the publication more robust and getting the Oppy back on the map. It’s evident that she is extremely passionate about everything she does, including uploading articles to WordPress, right Deirdre?  Like you guys, I’ve learned a lot about Deirdre reading everyone else’s blurbs, and I am constantly in awe of this woman who seems to have unlimited energy. I am so very fortunate to have met her this semester and am excited to continue to learn from and be inspired by Superwoman herself in the coming year. Thank you for all you do, Deirdre!

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