Supporters Welcome Back Miss Kansas

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WICHITA, Kan. (WIBW) - Miss Kansas returned back to Wichita after spending nearly two weeks at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.

Sgt. Theresa Vail won the online vote, called "America's Choice," which gave her a spot in the Top 15 during the live telecast.

"It was such a great experience and hearing my name called for America's Choice. I know I made a difference," said Vail.

The 22-year-old is considered the first national contestant to expose two large tattoos during the swimsuit competition.

One tattoo is the Serenity Prayer, which helped her to overcome the bullying she experienced in her youth. The other is the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, which pays tribute to her father who was a dentist and helped influence her decision to become a dentist in the military.

"With my platform of breaking stereotypes, I feel like I did that," she said. "The messages that are coming in now, just saying 'thank you for being you,' that's what it meant to me."

Vail advanced to the Top 12 and competed in evening gown and advanced to the Top 10 and competed in talent.

Although she did not advance to the Top 5, one of her friends went on to win.

The 24-year-old, New York-born, Nina Davuluri, won the title of Miss America 2014. She is the second Asian-American woman and first of Indian heritage to win the Miss America title.

"She's a wonderful person. I really connected with Miss New York. Out of the whole time, it was Miss New York, Nevada, and Illinois. I feel very confident in her ability to do the job," said Vail.

Vail will now continue her reign as Miss Kansas making appearances and continue to champion her platform of empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers.

She will crown her successor in Pratt in June 2014.