Deirdre! The Oppy’s illustrious Editor-in-Chief, marathon superhero, nurse practitioner…what can’t she do? Besides being a Langone student at Stern, she works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the Pediatric ICU, where she takes care of children who are critically ill from cancer. Despite the magnitude of her job and insane work hours, she is always upbeat and finds time to run The Oppy. We get emails from her at all times of the day and night. “Time stamped at 4:13am…is Deirdre working overnight or getting up to start her day?” We never know. But somehow Deirdre still finds time to have fun, whether it’s going out or traveling. I question if she even sleeps.
I’m not the only one who is marveled by her. Just take it from Langone Managing Editor David Kalan, the board member most responsible for giving Deirdre headaches:
“Deirdre? Deirdre Keane? The marathon-running pediatric oncology nurse practitioner? That one? With the effusive positivity, overt friendliness, and wicked sense of humor? And the irrationally impressive litany of board memberships and graduate degrees? The one who is objectively pretty easy on the eyes and literally worked on the front lines to save lives during the worst health crisis of our time? The one who travels the world and makes your Type-A friend look lazy? Gosh.
Gotta be honest, I’m not sure I get the appeal.”
Well, Dave, that makes one of us! On with the interview!
Deirdre, thanks for sitting down to be this month’s bachelorette, just a few months out from your graduation. After being at The Oppy’s helm as Editor-in-Chief for two years, what made you decide to finally be featured on Stern Singles?
Someone on the board suggested it last year, and initially I thought it would be unorthodox since I’m the Editor-in-Chief. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it doesn’t matter. The Oppy is a student club, not the New York Times. Plus, I love Stern Singles. Truly, I do. I love interviewing people and getting to ask ridiculous questions because it’s jestful and informal, unlike our typical interviews. And when I don’t do the interviews, I love reading and editing them before publication. It is such a great way to get to know classmates. Like, “not only do I know what your pet peeves are, but I am also very familiar with your face because I spent an hour trying to format your photos before I gave up and texted Phuong.”
I like to ask people for their “life elevator pitch” – meaning, their life and career in a nutshell, but much more interesting than just their day job.
Okay, casual elevator pitch…
I’m from New York. My parents immigrated from Ireland, so I spent a lot of time in Ireland growing up. It was the best of both worlds. I still go back once or twice a year. I went to undergrad at Northeastern and studied nursing. I knew I wanted to go into medicine after my dad was diagnosed with cancer, so it’s no surprise that I work in oncology. I worked as a nurse for a few years while I went to Columbia to become a nurse practitioner. I started working as an NP at Memorial Sloan Kettering and loved the autonomy, but wanted to be able to do more on a grander scale. So, I decided to go back to school again to get my MBA. I’m looking into both healthcare startups and more established biotech companies after graduation. I want to find a position where I can utilize both my clinical and MBA knowledge. Besides work and school, I try to remain well balanced and have a solid social life. Being around people energizes me. I love going out for dinners and drinks. I also travel a lot. I did a Euro trip in January and am heading to Central America next week. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is my motto.
I know running is a huge passion for you. Can you tell us more about how you became such an avid runner?
Running has become so much of what I’m known for, but I wasn’t always a runner. My father was a massive marathoner. He passed away when I was a teenager, so in college I wanted to run a marathon in his honor. I had only started running six months earlier. Craziness. But after that first marathon, I got the bug and became hooked. Now I’ve done 35 marathons. It’s such a great way to see the world. Plus, I love eating whatever I want.
That’s wonderful that you run to honor your dad’s memory, I’m sure he’s incredibly proud of you. Also, the unlimited appetite sounds awesome! I’ve heard rumors about you running a marathon on all seven continents? Please tell.
Yes! It’s called the World Marathon Challenge. I had first heard about it in 2018 when Tom Brady posted on IG about a woman completing it for the first time. I knew I wanted to do it someday. Last year, after struggling through the pandemic, I decided that “someday” had arrived and applied for it. It is this October and it will be the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I am both excited and terrified! Essentially, it’s seven marathons on the seven continents in seven consecutive days. There are around 40 runners from all over the world, and we fly to Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and North America to run a marathon on each continent (a total of 186 miles) within 168 hours (7 days). I am using the experience to fundraise for mental health resources and suicide prevention through a nonprofit called Vibrant Emotional Health. The organization is centered in NYC and runs the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Holy cow, that is not something just anyone can do. All the best of luck to you! Now, with all this running, surely you listen to something to pass the time. What’s your go-to running track?
Oh, so many good ones! I do my speed intervals to fast tracks. My favorite balls to the wall songs are: Like a G6, Megatron, Toxic, Move to Miami, That’s Not My Name…I could go on and on.
With your hectic schedule and passions, what do you look for in a partner?
I’m looking for someone who is kind, adventurous, outgoing, driven but also laid back, smart, liberal, witty, confident, and loves to travel. Someone who ideally speaks six languages and comes with an inheritance. Kidding, but I wouldn’t object. Surprisingly, I’m usually not into runners. Most serious runners are very regimented with their lifestyles and want to talk about running all the time. That is not me (she says as she lets running take over her Stern Singles interview). I joke that race days consist of two marathons: the one I run in the morning and the second where I stay out as late as I can afterwards.
What are some dealbreakers for you?
I couldn’t date someone who was too regimented, inactive, prone to jealousy, or easily intimidated.
What is your ideal second date?
Going on a second date is a big deal for me. I love first dates because I get to meet someone new and hear his life story, but I typically know when there won’t be a second date. I either feel the connection or don’t. I think connection is what it really comes down to for all of us. An ideal second date would be dinner, where there is great banter and getting to know each other on a less superficial level.
You have a weekend with no plans scheduled. How would you spend your time?
A weekend with no plans? That sounds like a nightmare! Maybe that’s because I have to work so many weekends that I value my time off so much. I know I would jam-pack that weekend by seeing all those friends I’ve been neglecting lately. I have a godson, whom I haven’t been able to see in so long that he could be a teenager at this point. I’d like to see him again before he heads off to college in 2038.
How would your friends describe you and what would you hope people understand about you when they get to know you?
I think they would describe me as hard working, loving, and fun. People who are close to me know that I am immensely loyal. They may go weeks without hearing from me with everything I am juggling, but the second they need me, I will drop everything and go to bat for them. One thing that people should probably know is that sarcasm is my love language. The more I tease you, the more I like you, and I love being teased in return.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I have so many that I justify away. My diet is quite questionable. I just love junk food, the unhealthier the better.
I know you have a dog. Tell me more about Lady Grey.
Oh Lady Grey…my ten pound bundle of chaos. I succumbed to getting a dog during the pandemic, which was insane because I don’t work from home and my shifts are 12 hours. I never had a dog growing up. I wasn’t even sure I liked dogs – to the point that it became a running joke in my family. I would counter that I was going to get a greyhound (so she could run with me), she was going to have a pearl collar, and her name would be Lady Grey. Then, I discovered Italian Greyhounds (Iggies) on Instagram and TikTok. They are literally mini greyhounds but with great outfits. I must have been receiving targeted ads because one day I decided that I had to get an Iggy, and that is how Lady Grey came to be. Our one year “gotcha” day is coming up next month, and I could not love that creature more. She can run up to 10 miles with me but is small enough to travel with. So far, I have dragged Lady Grey to 11 states with me. She has racked up enough air miles that I wish I could open a Delta credit card in her name. If you think my schedule is busy, you should see hers. Between daycare, a nanny, and multiple friends who watch her when I’m at work, she’s earned the right to her own Google calendar. Sorry, I’ll stop spewing now. You clearly opened Pandora’s box here.
What’s something about you people would be surprised to find out?
Probably how laid back I am. If I learned anything from caring for children with cancer, it’s that life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
What’s been your best experience at Stern so far?
Oh man, tough question. I can narrow it down to two. I got to go on DBi China right before the pandemic, and it was the most incredible experience. Not because of how ridiculously fun it was, but because I made the best friends from that trip. I still see them all the time even though they’ve graduated. Some of us are going to Puerto Rico soon. The second experience has obviously been The Oppy. I knew nothing about newspapers when I first took over but somehow it has gone okay. I’ve gotten to know so many people at Stern through it and it has really grown my confidence as a leader. Plus, we have a great time writing about and interviewing whomever we want!
How much will you miss The Oppy?!
Don’t get me started! I’m going to be so sad. You know how much I love this newspaper and this board from all the annoying messages I send you guys. Our team is truly special and vibes so well. I could not be prouder of what we’ve accomplished. I will not miss WordPress though…
How should interested folks contact you?
Carrier pigeon. 😉
LinkedIn: Deirdre Keane