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Reigning Miss America Laura Kaeppeler discussed how mentoring impacted her life - and her journey to the crown - at a conference in Wichita.
Kaeppeler said mentors helped her through critical moments in her life. Her father served in federal prison while she attended high school.
She said she was close to her father, but that may not be true for everyone. Mentors could help enhance the relationship, or build it.
Having mentors helped Kaeppeler realize she was not alone and shaped who she is, she said. She described their impact as "extremely crucial."
Kaeppeler spoke at a luncheon sponsored by Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Kansas Department of Corrections and P3 - Positive Pathways Program.
As she prepares to pass on the title, Kaeppeler said she hopes she showed having flaws is tangible and relatable. She hopes the next Miss America is someone who has been raised through flaws and has overcome adversity.