Brooke Long grew up in a very small town in Pennsylvania where she considered herself to be the Hermione Granger of her school. She was always there to raise her hand and ask, as well as answer, questions in all of her classes. School was not always easy for her though. This love for academia caused her to be the target of bullying, whether it was people calling her “teacher’s pet” or body shaming her when she put on a bit of weight. Her mother had a great solution to help her through this though: the theatre. Brooke began to get involved in plays a short drive from home where she knew no one and could escape the bullying. She fell in love with the theatre and even participated in shows in college. Before graduating from high school, she showed her bullies that they would not affect her negatively in her life. When they gave her the senior superlative of never leaving her small town, she posed with the male who also won the title in a cowboy outfit on a tractor and “[she] owned that photo.”
When she began college at Penn State, she still experienced some bullying from her peers. She decided to put all of her focus in her classes and create good relationships with the faculty there, which has made all the difference in her life. She began undergraduate studies thinking she was going to be a lawyer but, after taking Professor Nicholas Rowland’s class on Introduction to Sociology, she was left with a different path in mind. She found that she had so many questions about sociology that she wanted answered and decided to change her major in order to find them out. He became a great mentor to her after he took her under his wing and supported her throughout her undergraduate studies even up through the present. Brooke even talked about how after a very difficult final exam, there were at least 15 students waiting to shake his hand afterwards to thank him for being such a great professor. She became involved in research and was continually supported by her parents, who have always been her cheerleaders and role models in her life providing great support in all of her endeavors. They are constant inspirations that have truly impacted her life. Brooke knew that she was in the right place after deciding on her sociology major when she felt the same joy and passion that she felt on stage.
Brooke’s nominator, Clare Stacey, talks of some of her other accomplishments. “Brooke has helped coordinate the graduate student orientation program for new graduate students (College of Arts and Sciences), and is the former leader of Alpha Kappa Delta, which is the sociological honors society (in which capacity she organized socials, silent auctions, and honors banquets). Brooke is also working as a co-leader with me to put on the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Sociology Symposium (NEOUSS) which brings undergraduates from over 70 different colleges and universities to Kent to present their scholarship. Brooke actually helped me create this symposium in 2014; without her, there would be no conference. Brooke does all of this service while also teaching classes, collecting data for her dissertation and writing scholarly articles. As you can see, she is quite exceptional.”
She would like to teach in the future and be a mentor to college students back home in Pennsylvania, where she can be close to home and raise a family with her fiancé, Fitz Yarrison, whom she has known since her sophomore year in high school.
What inspires Brooke to work hard is the fact that she can one day inspire students in the way she was inspired by her professors, as well as mentor and guide them towards their goals in life. She is always willing to give 150%, and not any less, in everything that she does which is one of the things that makes her so successful and such an inspiration to others. Brooke believes very much that “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing”, something Teddy Roosevelt said that resonates with her. She believes that the work she does is completely worth doing and cannot believe that she’s able to be paid to do something that she loves so much.