Miss Universe 2014
Miss PAULINA VEGA
AGE: 22 HOMETOWN: Barranquilla
HEIGHT: 5’ 9” LANGUAGE: Spanish, English
On Sunday, January 25, viewers from around the world watched as Paulina Vega competed for the title of Miss Universe and became only the second woman from Colombia to win the coveted crown in the pageant’s 63 year history; the last Colombian to capture the title was Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958.
Moments after Paulina’s historic win, people in Colombia flooded the streets and danced in celebration and President Juan Manuel Santos declared a national holiday in her honor. The Miss Universe victory has overjoyed Paulina’s country and resulted in an overwhelming amount of support for the 22-year-old. Excitement and words of encouragement were sent from Colombians across the globe including congratulatory messages from Shakira and Sofia Vergara – both natives of Barranquilla, the same city where Paulina was born and raised. After scoring the prestigious title, Paulina immediately relocated to New York City and settled in to a luxury midtown apartment outside of Central Park that she will call home during her reign as Miss Universe (one of the many perks that come with the new crown).
Coming from a country where fans anxiously await the Miss Universe Pageant as much as they do the World Cup, Paulina is surprisingly new to the pageant scene having won the Colombia title during her first attempt. As the middle child of seven brothers and sisters, Paulina claims that she rarely received attention growing up and that being in the spotlight is not something to which she is accustomed. That aside, she has always shined in academics and graduated from a German high school in Bogota, where she studied French in addition to German and English. Most recently, Paulina attended the Universidad Javeriana in Bogota where she studied business administration. After her reign, she plans to finish her education and plans to start her own company which focuses on exporting Colombian made products.
Down-to-earth and sincere, Paulina hopes that her sudden and sweet success encourages young people to be confident in pursuing their goals. President Santos told the Associated Press that Vega winning Miss Universe “demonstrates that in Colombia we have women who are intelligent, hard-working and perseverant in the face of obstacles.” He went on to add, “they are also very pretty.” Not only is the 5’ 9” dark-haired beauty stunning on the outside, her quick wit and ease with people has won her many fans on a variety of national news programs. “My goal this year is to learn more about myself – I hope to become a better person, better professional and better Paulina,” she stated during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Paulina loves playing volleyball as a way to stay physically fit and enjoys listening to music while lip syncing her favorite hip-hop songs. She admits that she has little skill in the kitchen but enjoys dining out and experiencing different culture’s cuisines... one food she can never turn down is her favorite snack, Rice Krispy Treats.
As Miss Universe, Paulina will work with organizations that are champions in the fight against HIV/AIDS and will travel the globe as a spokesperson raising awareness and funds in an effort to end the disease. She will also work closely with God’s Love We Deliver and Best Buddies.
Miss Universe 2013
Miss GABRIELA ISLER
AGE: 27 HOMETOWN: Maracay
HEIGHT: 5’ 10” LANGUAGE: Spanish
On November 9, 2013, Gabriela Isler made history when she was named Miss Universe, becoming the seventh woman from Venezuela to bring home the crown.
Representing a country with such an impressive Miss Universe track record can be a source of added pressure for Venezuelan beauties competing for the ultimate title. But for 26-year-old Gabriela wearing the Venezuela sash was a great honor allowing her to compete with confidence and pride onstage. Venezuela is known for intensive training programs for its beauty queens. Gabriela credits her age and life experiences for giving her the ability to make her own decisions on how she wanted to present herself at the pageant, even at times when she was given instructions from her Venezuelan director. One request of pageant coaches to which she did acquiesce, was to wear only high heels during her three weeks on location in Russia.
Surprisingly, prior to winning the Miss Venezuela title, Gabriela – a stunning beauty at nearly six feet tall – never saw herself having a career in front of the camera. Rather, she was focused on her studies and graduated from the private institution, UNITEC with a degree in marketing and business administration and eventually plans to open her own business after getting her MBA. While going to school, Gabriela was introduced to the modeling world unexpectedly when a scout spotted her unique features which she attributes to her father who is Swiss and German.
Modeling led to Miss Universe Venezuela “and the rest,” as they say, “is history.”
Gabriela has used her title to bring attention to important issues around the world, especially those that involve women and children. This past spring, Gabriela traveled to communities in the Philippines that were hit by Typhoon Haiyan and launched the Miss Universe Cordaid Fund. Cordaid, a Dutch development agency, continues to raise awareness and funds for the affected areas and works to implement programs for its people, specifically women and children, to become more resilient for the future. Her efforts with Cordaid and the Philippines has been recognized by the Vatican and resulted in a public humanitarian blessing from Pop Francis. As Miss Universe, Gabriela also serves as a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS awareness and works closely with organizations such as God’s Love We Deliver, Latino AIDS Commission and Aid for AIDS, among others. During her reign, Gabriela has spent time on Capitol Hill to support amfAR, one of the world’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, prevention, education and the advocacy of sound SIDS-related public policy.
Gabriela has embraced the whirlwind her life has become since becoming Miss Universe. Just after winning the crown, she was whisked away to a luxury apartment in New York City, which serves as her home base while she travels the globe on behalf of the Miss Universe Organization. The most difficult part about making the transition to New York…winter. Gabriela, who has been home to Venezuela only once briefly over the holidays, has had to make the adjustment to one of the coldest winters on record in New York. Having to adjust to the changing climate didn’t stop Gabriela from being recognized immediately for her fashion statements as she was named Best Dressed at the 2013 Latin Grammy Awards after presenting an award in Las Vegas. Soon to follow, Gabriela also presented the award for Artist of the Year at the Latin Billboards. The Venezuelan beauty has made headlines throughout her reign since the fall of 2013 making #4 on Huffington Post Latino Voice’s “Top 10 Most Influential Latinos in the World” list as well as being selected as one of People en Espanol’s 25 Most Powerful Women.
Gabriela is a self-described “compulsive planner” and has found adjusting to an ever-changing schedule to be a bit of a challenge. “I am used to making my own schedule and I know my own calendar very far in advance. It is sometimes difficult to board a plane for a two week trip and not know what I will be doing every day but I think this experience will make me more flexible in the future.” Gabriela loves to travel and has made sure to enjoy every moment of her reign. “I know it will go by very quickly and I need to make the most of every opportunity,” she adds. “I miss my family very much but they are all very proud of me and very supportive.”
Family is what Gabriela says is the most important part of her life. She credits her mother, Emperatriz, for the strong values she learned growing up. Throughout her childhood, Gabriela was surrounded by a large extended family but had to move away from them following her parent’s divorce. After the move, she lived with her mother, grandmother and older sister, a trio of independent women who impacted her life greatly and forced her to grow up quickly. Gabriela worked hard to support herself through college and took an active role in helping her sister Karen raise her daughter. During her spare time, Gabriela enjoys baking and watching movies.
Miss Universe 2012
Miss OLIVIA CULPO
AGE: 22 HOMETOWN: Cranston, Rhode Island
On December 19, 2012, Olivia Culpo of Cranston, Rhode Island, won the title of Miss Universe 2012 bringing the most coveted crown back to the USA after 15 years. It’s been a whirlwind for this 21-year old beauty who won the titles of Miss Rhode Island USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe within 15 months.
Olivia serves as a spokeswoman for HIV/AIDS Awareness and advocates for organizations such as God’s Love We Deliver, YouthAIDS PSI, among others.
Down-to-earth and approachable, Olivia is passionate about her family. She may wear the biggest crown now but this wasn’t always the case for this middle child of five. Olivia plans to use the Miss Universe platform to pursue an entertainment career.
Thank you Images and Information from MissUniverse.com
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