Sanders first won the Miss Kansas Teen USA title in late 1994. In August 1995 she was crowned Miss Teen USA in the national pageant televised live from Wichita, in her home state of Kansas. As Miss Kansas Teen USA, Sanders was part of the Vanbros organization, and she would retain links with that group after she gave up her crown.
Sanders later graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising. She remained involved in pageantry, and formed her own pageant consulting business, Keylee Sue & Associates, Inc, in 1997. In 1999, Sanders designed the competition gowns for Miss Kansas Teen USA and Miss Missouri Teen USA.