Paige Kauffman loves public speaking, loves performing and is passionate about serving others. She has grown up watching Miss America Pageants on television with her mother and is acquainted with a former Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen contestant. In 2014 she made the choice to enter and was one of 10 finalists for the title.

“It encompasses everything I love in one organization,” Kauffman said Sunday morning, after winning the 2016 Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen title on Saturday afternoon. She was also a preliminary fitness winner on Friday.

She has just turned 17 and will be a senior at Hesston High School, where she is a cheerleader and a member of show choir and Future Business Leaders of America, which has given her the opportunity to compete in public speaking at the state level.

She has chosen a platform to end sex trafficking and has partnered with ICT-SOS in Wichita, which partners with professional agencies and law enforcement to facilitate re-entry of young women who have been vicitimized. Her goal as MKOT is to collect more than 100 fresh-start bags, collections of clothing and hygiene items, journals and other comfort items.

With a platform that has been broadened to also include inappropriate online relationships, she believes the title will give her a wider audience to talk about self-confidence, which makes a person less vulnerable.

She sang “A Change in Me,” from “The Beauty and the Beast,” for which she played the role of Belle in her high school production.

Kauffman will compete in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Florida, in August. Her year of service will extend until next June.

As a high school student, MKOT’s service is limited, and must be worked in around education as the top priority. Kauffman said she’s pretty involved in school, works three days a week at Hesston Pharmacy and has been able to juggle school, work, practices, homework and time with family. She believes she will be able to manage the new title without problem.

She has already made her college choice — Azusa Pacific University in California, where she plans a double major in journalism and business, with an eye toward broadcast journalism and eventually becoming a motivational speaker.

She is the only child of Dave and Lynda Kauffman of Hesston, where her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins also live. She treasures the close relationships, but looks forward to traveling and extending her borders.

Runners-up in the MKOT pageant are:

1. Hailey Colborn, Wichita, who was also a preliminary winner in both fitness and talent.

2. Corrine Brewer, Arkansas City

3. Alexis Smith, Wichita

4. Taylor Clark, St. John, also a preliminary talent winner with a drum solo.

Twenty-one young women, age 13-17 competed in the pageant, including Amber Jellison-Harris and Kahrie Stegman, both of Pratt.

Kauffman extended contestants’ thanks to the Pratt community and Pratt Community College, host for the pageant, for making them feel like celebrities for the week.