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THE PAGEANTRY INTERVIEW laurakaeppeler PHOTO BY JENN CADY Stepping Out into the World As only the second Miss America ever to hail from the state of Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler never left her hometown until her year of service took her on a whirlwind tour hen Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America 2012 in Las Vegas one year ago, she wasn’t as well-versed in travel as much as some of her predecessors. In fact, as she readily admits, she hadn’t actually ever traveled very far from her hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin at all. She lived there her entire life, and even received her music degree from Carthage College right in her own back yard. But it’s stories like Laura’s that perhaps teach us better than any others that if you don’t try something new, you’ll never get to experience success or failure. Fortunately, Laura’s is a story of in- credible success, as her year as just the sec- ond Miss Wisconsin to ever win on the organization’s biggest stage has been an- chored by her amazing work with the Children’s Miracle Network, as well as her efforts with her own unique platform, Children of Incarcerated Parents. Laura stunned the crowd last January with her willingness to openly discuss her family’s past and her father’s time in prison, but it was simply evidence of what a spectacular and strong individual she had grown to be in the face of adversity. W Pageantry magazine: A lot has tran- spired since the last time we spoke, and 94 PAGEANTRY since your year of service is ending, has the travel schedule been as hectic as we’re led to believe? Laura Kaeppeler: It definitely has. I’m not sure of the exact miles per month, but I think the average is around 25,000 miles, and that is absolutely the truth. Some months have been busier than others and some weeks have been busier than others, but I’m definitely as busy as people think. PM: Traveling as much as you do does become tiring and it takes its toll. How do you decompress when you’re on the road? LK: At night, when I’m in my room, I don’t turn the TV on. Sometimes I listen to music, but at night, when people normally flip on the news or a TV show, that’s my time to decompress. Just being quiet in my room at night is the best way for me to relax and calm down from the day, because it’s an odd high that you’re interacting with people all day long, and especially strangers who are looking at you as the one to start the conversation. I just need that quiet time at night to sort of gather my thoughts. PM: You’ll be going to Las Vegas in a different capacity this year, as you won’t be the one competing this time. What are you looking forward to the most about Las Vegas this time? LK: I’m excited to see the girls, first of all. I got to meet them in Florida, and I’ve sent them some encouraging emails along the way. I’ve also sent them some packing lists, because now going back for the second time, there are some things I would and would not have brought with me. We’ve been corresponding and they’re all so won- derful, so I’m excited to watch them do their thing and see it from a totally differ- ent angle. PM: When you think back about your year as Miss America, what are some of the biggest highlights that come to mind? LK: For me, the travel has been one of the overall highlights, because I had never been outside of Kenosha, Wisconsin—I went to college in Kenosha—and now I’ve visited places that for so long I’d only seen on a map or in a geography book. Travel- ing can open the mind to so many differ- ent cultures and people, and that’s really amazing. But to be a young woman and to have a national voice, like the one that I have been given this year, has been one of the biggest highlights. But to be a young woman who is speak- ing out about platforms and causes that are geared to my heart, and that people listen