Author Billy Keenan Inspires Berkeley College Audience with Message of Faith and Resilience

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Contact: Kelly Depsee
Senior Director, Communications and External Relations

Berkeley Keenan 

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Watch the Video: Click here to watch the presentation by Billy Keenan.

More Information: For more information on Keenan’s speaking engagements, visit Click here for more information about “The Road to Resilience.” 

Billy Keenan, a teacher, musician, and athlete who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in 2013, shared his message of faith and resilience with a captivated audience at Berkeley College on Thursday, November 9, 2023. The event aligned with Veterans Day, as Keenan also discussed his service as a Lieutenant and paratrooper in the U.S. Army. 

Keenan was a competitive triathlete and accomplished musician until a devastating surfing injury at the Jersey Shore left him a quadriplegic and reliant on a ventilator. 

“Everything was perfect in one minute, and then it was gone,” Keenan said. “What do you do the day after the worst day of your life? … My grief at the man I lost was so intense, so burning, so profound.” 

When he was lost in despair, Keenan found strength in his faith, and in the message of forgiveness shared by Steven McDonald, a paralyzed New York City Police Department patrolman. 

“I had to keep picking through the wreckage and find more pieces of resilience,” Keenan said. “I would use those pieces of resilience to lay the foundation upon which I would rebuild my life.” 

Although his medical team never expected him to regain independent breathing, Keenan reached the milestone only four months after his injury. He returned to teaching for two years, until complications forced him to retire permanently. 

“The times that you don’t think you can go any further, go one step further,” he said. “Keep going, keep moving forward, and you will be amazed at the rewards that will come to you.” 

Keenan authored his memoir, “The Road to Resilience: The Billy Keenan Story,” which was published in June 2023. He told the students in the audience that the secret to happiness is finding a purpose.   

“If I can find a way to be happy in this really difficult state, imagine the joy and happiness that you can bring to others,” he said. 

“Billy Keenan’s message of resilience and moving forward resonates with everyone,” said Patricia Greer, JD, Berkeley College Provost, a longtime friend of Keenan. “Billy truly exemplifies the best in all of us – perseverance, courage, and hope, even in the face of extreme adversity.” 

About Berkeley College 

Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers Continuing Education programs to enhance career credentials. 

Berkeley College has campuses in New York City and in Newark, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 3,600 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for 10 consecutive years. Berkeley College was also ranked among the Best Regional Colleges/Universities in the North in the 2023-2024 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges survey. The website address is