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26-year-old woman goes from Laos to Thai refugee camp to Miss Minnesota

Published 02/13/2012, McClatchy Tribune

One measure of the American Dream: After your parents dodge soldiers in the Laotian countryside, and your father builds a bamboo raft to escape across the Mekong River, and your family settles in a prosperous neighborhood in Savage, Minn., you are crowned Miss Minnesota USA, and the thing that makes you shake your head in wonder is butt glue. The Miss Minnesota USA pageant is the only such contest that Panemalaythong ever entered. Not only that, but she’s 26, the oldest a competitor can be. She’s also the first Asian-American to be named Miss Minnesota USA.

Word count: 780

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