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Editor’s Note: Between appearances here that drew hundreds, first at the Civil War Museum and later at the Jockey store downtown, Miss America 2012, Kenosha’s own Laura Kaeppeler, paused Friday night to talk with Kenosha News reporter Bill Guida about wearing the crown. Kaeppeler, 24, also spoke about her continuing connection to the U.S. Dream Academy national mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents, as well as what lies ahead for her after she passes the crown to the next winner.
In a word, how would you describe your experience as Miss America since beginning your reign in January?
Can I do two words? Amazing whirlwind.
You packed the Civil War Museum tonight for your performance as you’ve done each time you returned to Kenosha as Miss America. How does it make you feel to get such a warm welcome whenever you come back? Or do you always get that kind of turnout wherever you go as Miss America?
It’s not the same everywhere. Depending on the venue, there can be 50, 100, 1,000 (in attendance). I never know how many are expected. I only see who comes. I can go to a children’s hospital, and it could be just the mom, the dad, their child and me. It just depends.
It does feel good here. I’m proud that people who supported me from day one still support me. I feel honored when they come out. I’m very thankful for that.
What is the most special moment that comes to mind since you were crowned Miss America?
The short version: I met the President. The long version: The times I got to spend with the Dream Academy children without the press or anybody else around, just the kids. Those were the best moments.
What comes to mind when you think about passing the crown on in January to the next Miss America?
It’ll be bittersweet. It’s a busy, hectic, crazy year. I think one girl can only do it for a year. Miss Americas usually are 17-24. I’m at the older end. So, I’m excited to see what’s right around the corner.
So, what’s next for Laura Kaeppeler?
It seems as soon as I was crowned, people started asking me that. I have a manager who said you’re in demand as a Miss America for three to five years. But I plan to take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and go to law school. My final appearance this year will be with the Dream Academy.
Unfortunately contractual demands (as Miss America) have kept me from working with them as close as I wanted to (before being crowned). But I’ve been able to generate funds for them and other children’s programs. So, that’s been my work for them right now. In the future, I hope to have my own form of a Dream Academy-like program.
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