Little did she know that the children would enrich her life just as much as she would theirs.
“I was in Philly and I met this little girl named Alison,” the 19-year-old tells PEOPLE Now. “And she said to me, ‘I want to be just like you when I grow up.’ And I said, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ ”
Her answer was as simple as it was sweet: ” ‘Because you’re so happy!’ ”
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Carpenter was profoundly moved by the sentiment. “I think it was so incredible because all those kids are going through so much in their lives – so much more than any of us realize – and they’re still so positive. That made me incredibly happy – happier than even she thought I was!”
In addition to her hit television show, Carpenter’s sophomore album, EVOLution is due out on Oct. 14. Find more information on the Ryan Seacrest Foundation here.