Miss America 2012 | Inspirational Speaker | Podcast Host | Singer/Performer | At-Risk Youth Advocate
Laura Kaeppeler Bio
As a vocalist, Laura Kaeppeler has also performed the National Anthem at numerous sold-out venues, including Angel Stadium, Lambeau Field, Miller Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.
Laura is passionate about advocating for children of incarcerated parents, and has been invited to speak at The White House and partner with organizations including the U.S. Dream Academy, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America, Operation Open Arms and others.
In 2012, Laura was a recipient of the Courage Award from The CarePlus Foundation, an organization that supports the innovative and life-changing programs and services for in-need adults, and also received the Thomas Mott Osborne Medal from The Osbourne Association, a group that creates opportunities for people affected by the criminal justice system.
Laura Kaeppeler attended Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Music and Vocal Performance.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Where is Laura Kaeppeler From?
A: Laura is originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Q: What can I follow Laura Kaeppeler on social media?
A: Follow Laura Kaeppeler on Twitter here, or here on Facebook!
Q: What was your favorite thing about growing up in Kenosha?
A: Kenosha is such a wonderful place. The people are my most favorite memory of growing up in Kenosha. Kenosha is such a tight knit community with really good people. People talk about the Midwest and the people there as “the salt of the earth”. And that’s really the truth! That is what makes Kenosha the best, and that is my best memory.
Q: What Kenosha business do you love and always try to visit when you go back home?
A: I love a restaurant called “The Spot”, which is actually the first place that I worked at. It’s a local drive-in restaurant, with hamburgers, french fries and homemade root beer. So everytime I go back home, I love to visit The Spot.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was at The Spot Drive-In. I started working there when I was 15 years old, worked there all the way through college and was able to pay my way through school. I first started working inside the restaurant, at the cash register and making ice cream. Eventually I worked as a waitress. I have fond memories of working there.
Q: What are some life lessons you learned from your first job?
A: It really instilled in me a strong work ethic, because I worked outside in Wisconsin which means it was cold and sometimes snowy. And they stayed open really late, so sometimes I work until like 3 or 3:30 a.m. And then I’d get up the next morning by 11 a.m. to work again. So the weather conditions, combined with the hours instilled a really strong work ethic in me.
Q: What initially drew you to the Miss America competition, and compelled you to enter?
A: When I first competed in Miss Kenosha, I was actually recruited by a friend of mine who was in the music department with me at Carthage College, we were both in choir, and we both were vocalists. And she suggested that I compete because they had a talent portion of the competition, and also had a scholarship portion of the competition. So she said, “You could do really well because you’re a singer. And if you’re looking to earn some scholarship dollars, you can do so through this program.” So I had grown up attending the Miss Kenosha pageant, and like I said, Kenosha is such a small, close knit community that the Miss Kenosha pageant was a community ordeal! And a lot of people would go to watch. But I never thought of entering myself. It wasn’t until I was in college, about 21 years old, and realized that I was going to be graduating soon with a lot of student loans. So it became a perfect opportunity to pay off some student loans, and an opportunity to perform. And the more I learned about the organization, it really was an opportunity to give back and do some good.
Q: What advice would you have for anyone considering entering a pageant or competition?
A: I’ve worked with a lot of girls through the years who have wanted to enter a pageant, and my best advice is to be yourself. I think young women think they have to conform to a stereotypical “pageant person”. And that’s not really the case! I think the young women who do the best are the ones that haven’t had a lot of experience in that world and who can just be themselves. It should be fun and you shouldn’t have to change who you are to feel like you fit into doing that.
Q: Describe the experience of working with the USO and singing for the soldiers and their spouses?
A: Traveling as Miss America was one of the most incredible experiences because I was able to do so much, and meet so many amazing people. And one of those incredible organizations was working with the military in the USO. I visited military bases all around the country, and I was able to perform for some of the troops at the bases that I went to. The gratitude you feel when you actually are in the space that our troops spend the most of their time is remarkable. And so to this day, I still thank the men and women I see who are out and about in uniform. I always always shake their hand and thank them for their service because it’s important.
Q: Describe the experience of performing the national anthem at iconic places like Wrigley Field and Yankee stadium?
A: Those were really great experiences as a vocalist. My goal was to place in the top 10 in Miss America, so that I could sing on national television. And then actually winning and being able to perform across the country at places like Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and other stadiums across the country was a dream come true. That’s just the icing on the cake for any singer!
Q: Why do you feel passionately about the scholarship program at Carthage College?
A: Carthage College is an amazing school, and to this day, I still keep in touch with many of my professors and friends. Carthage really helped shape who I am today, I learned so much about music and performing from the faculty at Carthage, and my music studies program. And I’ve always remembered who’s helped me along the way, and where I come from. I think that’s really important. So giving back just feels natural and wanting to help kids who have gone through a hard time with the pandemic too, is something that I feel passionately about.
Q: What made you want to enhance the Laura Kaeppeler Kenosha Scholarship this year?
A: I know the cost of college can be overwhelming at times, and having gone through the pandemic I know that a lot of students are facing struggles. So enhancing the Laura Kaeppeler Scholarship at Carthage College is a way that I can give back. To this day, I get letters from all the students that have received that scholarship, and that’s really cool to see what they’re up to and what they’ve studied. So if I could help in just a little way, I’m really grateful.
Q: Tell me about your feelings for Kenosha, and why you wanted to help your hometown after the recent devastating riots and the effects of the pandemic on small businesses?
A: Kenosha is such a great town ,and it’s a community that really comes together in the face of adversity. And that was no different after the devastating riots that Kenosha experienced combined with the pandemic. And to give back to a community that really gave so much to me and help support me and shape who I am today means so much.
Q: What important single piece of advice do you have for anyone considering volunteering or giving back to their community?
A: I think it’s important, no matter where you are in life, or how old you are, or even if you’ve left your hometown and moved somewhere else, that remembering where you’re from is important! Remember the people along the way that have helped shape you. So for anyone who wants to volunteer or give back, just remember where you came from and try to give back to that community. It’s a good place to start.
Q: What inspired you to co-create the “Health Interrupted” podcast?
A: The “Health Interrupted” Podcast was created in the middle of a pandemic! My co-host Gina Lombardi and I realized that we were in the middle of the most life changing interruption, as we all were in lockdown. And the more we thought about it and realized– I’m interrupted a thousand times a day as a mother with kids, and she’s interrupted with her life and family and work– it’s a pretty common theme that many people experience. We’re all interrupted in life, and it’s inevitable. But it’s how we pick ourselves up again, and how we use those interruptions to learn and grow to become the biggest, boldest, best version of ourselves.
Q: What topics does the podcast cover?
A: “Health Interrupted” covers all sorts of health topics and interruptions– mental health, spiritual health, physical health. We’ve talked to people who have faced really traumatic accidents, people who have various diseases or disabilities. We really covered the gamut of interruptions, but we tried to stick to mental, spiritual and physical health interruptions.
Q: What is the most overlooked thing that is a factor to good health?
A: The most overlooked factor to health is twofold– people don’t know enough about it, or how to get started. There’s always a fad diet, and people always think there’s a shortcut that you can take. And the truth is, you’ve got to eat well, and you have to exercise. There’s really no getting around that, and those two things haven’t changed. I don’t think they ever will. And the second part is that we lack dedication. And so when you get down or it’s hard to get your exercise in that day, or stick to a meal plan, we give up easily. So I think dedication and knowledge are the two biggest ways in which we don’t succeed.
Q: What key thing do you know now, that you wish you knew when you were young?
A: What I wish I knew when I was younger– I think it’s the classic “Don’t worry”. I think worrying is a wasted emotion. Life does end up playing out the way that it’s supposed to. So I think I would tell the younger version of myself not to worry so much.
Q: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
A: I really admire imperfect people. And I really think if we can talk about life in a real way, with real struggles that people face, we could all see humanity and each other a little more. And I think that parlays into being kind to one another, and being respectful of one another and our differences if we can really see each other for the hardships that we go through. There’s a lot of commonality there.
Q: What book have you found most valuable to your personal growth?
A: I’m really into psychology, and so I really love books about healing, learning and growing. “The Untethered Soul” is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Q: How do you balance your time between family, your podcast, teaching music?
A: I think that’s a work in progress! I don’t think I’ve balanced it well. I have yet to figure that one out. And with the pandemic, you know, we’ve all just been ‘all hands on deck’ for the last year. So just adjusting, and I think you have to make 100 adjustments a day, truthfully.
Q: What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned?
A: The most important life lesson is that we’re all going to make mistakes, but we’re human. That’s the nature of life and this existence that we have, but if we use our mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow, that’s the biggest lesson because if you don’t, what’s the point?
Q: Who is your hero of fiction (books, movies, etc.)?
A: Wonder Woman. I mean, as a woman, naturally, it’s a pretty classic answer, but it’s true.
Q: Which public figure do you most admire?
A: I love Michelle Obama. I admire her so much, but you know, if I didn’t have to choose just one person, again, I really admire imperfect people.
Q: What three songs are you listening to?
A: Well, I love Justin Bieber. I think he’s an amazing musician truthfully. So Justin Bieber’s on repeat. I also love the Indigo Girls. They’re on repeat. And we also listen to a lot of Grateful Dead, so love them too.
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