Fellowship recipients continue Marina Keegan’s legacy

Annie Stockwell ’22 and Katie Baker ’23 stand out for impactful projects


Nathan Bornstein, Staff Writer

This year’s recipients of the Marina Keegan Fellowship plan to honor Marina Keegan ’08’s ideals of activism and community with summer projects involving graduation portraits and body positivity. Katie Baker ’23 will photograph adults receiving their high school diplomas, providing their families with inspiration and perhaps sharing their stories with the school community, while Annie Stockwell ’22 hopes to educate Lower School (LS) students about mental health and body image through developing workshops and a health curriculum that incorporates body positivity.

A committee of eight members—Marina’s parents, five of her former Upper School (US) teachers, and her friend Luke Vargas ’08—met twice over Zoom to discuss the proposals of this year’s 16 applicants.

“Applicants had to be pretty thoughtful about what realistically they could do during the pandemic,” Committee member Beth McNamara, who taught Marina English, said.

“We talked through every application, and the more evidence of a developed plan they showed us, the better off they were.”

The two recipients stood out for the feasibility of their plans and their embodiment of Marina Keegan’s ideals, Ms. McNamara said.

“Like Marina, both of them have the activist components of connecting to people with clear compassion. We want our students to be involved in whatever project they are doing. We are starting something, adding to something, or developing something—‘the opposite of loneliness,’ quite literally,” she said, referring to Marina’s essay and book of the same name.

Committee member and US English Teacher Ariel Duddy appreciated how Annie and Katie applied their individual perspectives to their plans, she said.

“The two of them demonstrated a real connection between themselves and the community they aim to serve, which felt pretty powerful,” Ms. Duddy said.

Annie reported close relationships with people who have struggled with body image, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders.

“I have seen how it affects people and how it can really change somebody’s life,” Annie said. “I wanted to do something that could have helped me or other people who have been affected by low self-esteem and poor mental health.”

Focusing on LS students is a key piece of her project, Annie said.

“It’s so important to give the younger generation the tools they are going to need to feel confident in themselves because having confidence can affect you for a really long time and keep you in a strong headspace.”

Starting this summer, Annie plans to research mental health and body image and consult experts before collaborating with LS faculty members on their health curriculum for 2021-22. Annie also hopes to visit the LS with other US students to discuss mental health and self-love, she said.

“The goal is only positivity; we don’t want to introduce anything negative to kids ever.”

Annie’s grant of $200 will likely go toward transportation costs and workshop materials, she said.

Katie will use her love of photography to commemorate the achievements of adults receiving their high school diplomas. The idea came from her experience as a volunteer in the adult diploma program at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in Boston, she said.

“Here at BB&N, graduation is such a given, and in our lives, we don’t know many people who don’t graduate or don’t have the opportunity to graduate from high school,” Katie said. “But especially after seeing how much these adults in the JVS program want to graduate, and how hard they work on top of parenting and multiple jobs, I want them to succeed. And when they do, if they have a portrait on their wall of them with a diploma, it’s going to make their kids want to live up to that and have their own goals.”

Katie plans to attend two JVS graduation ceremonies at the Massachusetts State House in Boston this summer, using her $600 grant for portrait materials, frames, and gift bags.

“I want to continue Marina’s legacy and do something good for my community in her honor,” Katie said. “I am proud to embody her spirit and values through my project.”

Both Keegan fellows continue to mull the logistics of their projects, Ms. McNamara said, and will finalize their plans by June, the official start of the fellowship.