Archived Story

Apple Queen bites into future

Published 10:31pm Monday, June 11, 2012

Four Flags Area Apple Queen Sarah Long shatters teen stereotypes in the time it takes to drink a vanilla latte at Union Coffee House.

Long

Long, 18, graduated June 3 with Buchanan’s Class of 2012.

“I was born in Arizona, but I’m a Midwest girl. I couldn’t go without green trees, as much as I say I hate snow,” she said.

Her penchant for multitasking will be put to the test in September when she juggles completing her current reign and competing in the Miss Michigan preliminary to Miss USA, the pageant Donald Trump owns.

Long started in pageant competitions at 3, finishing first runner-up in Starburst and winning Star Search at 5.

Long attended college orientation Wednesday. She will major in pre-med and psychology and minor in Spanish (her father, Bill Long, was born in Mexico; she lives with her mother, Jennifer Rouse, in Buchanan).

Her older brother deploys to Guantanamo in August.

Determined to escape her comfort zone, a year ago she couldn’t imagine following a friend to Grand Valley until she attended a soccer tournament there.

“It felt more like where I needed to be. I didn’t feel that way at other campuses. University of Michigan was way too big and far from Buchanan. Holy Cross was way too small and way too close. I also looked at Ball State.”

Psychiatry “is going to be a heavy load” for eight years.

“Then I want to write a book,” she said. “In eighth grade, we had a ‘career cruise’ on the computer. I wanted to be a doctor and help people, but knew I didn’t do well with needles.”

The queen attended two community pageants, Miss Buchanan and Miss Niles.

“We participated in the Dowagiac Christmas parade at night. It was really pretty. We met Santa at the Niles train station lighting. We did the Blossomtime parade. The Four Flags Area includes Dowagiac, Buchanan, Berrien Springs, Edwardsburg, Niles and Brandywine. I was in Apple Festival five years, including junior miss for three, before I won. Apple Festival is like a big family. Craig Crocker, the president, I’ve known his step-daughter, Amber, forever. Once you’re in Apple Festival, you’re there for life. The court is close. We go shopping and to the movies together.”

Being a tomboy came in handy at the log saw.

In high school, she played soccer, managed the wrestling team, led Students Against Destructive Decisions, National Honor Society secretary and student body president.

“I look forward to being able to study what I want,” Sarah said. “I tested out of English, so I’m taking ancient literature.”

She babysits 40 hours a week but is trying to land an evening job at the Niles library.

“I like to hang out at the beach, run, swim and be with my family, she said. “Last night, I took my mom, boyfriend and nephew out to dinner. My dad, who lives in Tucson, was here for graduation.”

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