Caitlyn Jenner Miss America Contestant ... 'I Love That I Inspired Her!'

6/3/2015 10:50 AM PDT

Caitlyn Jenner -- Miss America Contestant ... 'I Love That I Inspired Her!'

EXCLUSIVE

The Miss America contestant who became the inspiration for Caitlyn Jenner's name thinks she knows why the now-famous Caitlyn was drawn to her.

Kaitlyn Tarpey -- a Miss America top 10 finalist in 2014 -- tells us she said something during the pageant she believes struck a chord with Bruce Jenner. She said, "Chin up, boobs up and rock it." Bruce gave Diane Sawyer a mantra that was very similar.

Caitlyn says she watched the Miss America pageant for inspiration in choosing a name and was actually leaning toward something different until Kaitlyn Tarpey appeared.

It's interesting ... Kaitlyn has the signature "K" which Caitlyn consciously rejected.

FUN FACT: Caitlin Brunell competed in last year's Miss America pageant. She's the daughter of longtime NFL quarterback Mark Brunell