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.