Kirkpatrick had been pursuing a modeling career for years prior to her appearance on the CW Network reality television show America's Next Top Model, and had looked into applying for the series before, but was a half-inch shorter than the 5'7" height cutoff. Her grandmother, who Kirkpatrick considers her best friend, told Kirkpatrick to try out for cycle 13: the "petite edition", because it specifically sought contestants who are 5'7" or under. Kirkpatrick said it was a last-minute, "spur-of-the-moment" decision to visit Chicago, Illinois, where she successfully applied to be on the season. Kirkpatrick was the last (fourteenth) girl (edited as the second last (thirteenth) girl called and followed by Sundai Love when aired) selected as one of the 14 finalists to compete in Cycle 13: the "Petite Edition" of America's Next Top Model. Kirkpatrick, who was 19 when she started on the show, was consistently considered one of the judges' favorite finalists throughout the season. She was particularly praised by the judges and reviewers for her strong personality, which stood out as different from those of the other contestants due to her working-class, "country girl" lifestyle. She was also noted for her tendency to break into sudden fits of excitement and laughter. Her Kentucky accent has been identified as part of her charm, although during the show, judge and fashion photographer Nigel Barker said it could prove to be a hindrance during her modeling career. Barker said, "I know that in the back of their head, they don't want a CoverGirl with an accent, unless it is already somebody super-famous. " Kirkpatrick initially tried to tone down her accent as a result of the comment, but stopped trying because she felt it made her "lose my spark". Kirkpatrick was never selected as one of the "bottom two" contestants for any of the challenges, though none of her photos were chosen as the best photo of the week. However, Kirkpatrick did exceptionally well on a group Cirque du Soleil shoot. Kirkpatrick said the Cirque du Soleil photo shoot was her favorite of the show, and that walking on the runway was her favorite part of the modeling experience.