Miss Universe 2017 Contestants

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Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart speaks as Miss Universe contestants arrive at a welcome event at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There are 92 contestants participating in the Miss Universe pageant this year. The pageant airs at 7 p.m. ET/PT (time delayed) on the FOX network tonight and Miss France Iris Mittenaere, last year’s winner, will relinquish her crown to one of the 92 women in the running. Steve Harvey has returned as the show’s host, along with model Ashley Graham who is, again, acting as the backstage host of the pageant. Singers Rachel Platten and Fergie are this year’s performers and they are set to take the stage. Get to know more about what to expect tonight by getting to know each of the contestants participating in the 2017 Miss Universe Competition. Read on for the details on each contestant.


Miss Albania Blerta Leka


Leka is a recent high school graduate and her causes include orphans and blood donation. Miss Universe Albania was Leka’s first time competing in a pageant. In addition to winning the title, Leka also took home the “Miss Bikini” special award.


Miss Angola Lauriela Martins


Martins is representing Angola at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant. And, even though she does not have a bio on the official Miss Universe website, she is, indeed, a contestant. When she is not competing in Miss Universe, Martins works as a model.


Miss Argentina Stefanía Incandela


Incandela is a model and college graduate with a degree in public relations. According to Earn the Necklace, Incandela’s cause is for children who suffer from domestic violence. She believes education, health and happiness are what are most important for children. Prior to participating in the Miss Universe Pageant for 2017, Incandela has also been a contestant in three other international pageants.


Miss Aruba Alina Mansur


Alina Mansur is 26 years old and she is a Management and Business Administration graduate from Florida International University, according to Phillipine News. She has also mastered horse-racing and is very involved with animals. In addition, she was picked as the Carnaval Queen of Aruba in 2009 and in 2010, as well as the International Carnaval Queen.


Miss Australia Olivia Rogers


According to Adelaide Now, Rogers talked about her father’s battle with bipolar disorder. In an interview with Sunday Mail, she revealed that, “My dad has bipolar. I haven’t actually spoken about it publicly before. He’s a doctor and I think there’s a stigma around bipolar where people think that people with it can’t function … It can be really tough, but I treat it like any other disease. If he had cancer and it kept popping up, I wouldn’t run the other way, I would do all I could to help him. It’s the same with mental illness – you’ve just got to be there.”


Miss Austria Celine Schrenk


Celine Schrenk is currently working towards a degree to become a teacher, according to the Miss Universe website. She enjoys mentoring local children and she enjoys teaching them athletics as well. As for her passion for pageants, she grew up being inspired by her mother.


Miss Bahamas Yasmine Cooke


The Bahamas Weekly reports that Yasmine Cooke is a medical student from Nassau, Bahamas. As to why she decided to enter pageants while studying medicine, she said, “The precision, refinement and dedication … As a medical student and future doctor I can take the lessons learned from pageantry into this professional arena.” Using her platform, Cookie hopes to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.


Miss Barbados Lesley Chapman


In her official Miss Universe Barbados online portfolio, Chapman’s bio describes her as this, “Generous, positive, and focused is how Lesley Chapman-Andrews would be best described by those closest to her. This 26 year-old’s quick smile and love for life contributes to the fact that she has experienced some of life’s greatest challenges. At the age of 16, her father passed away and thus began Lesley’s journey to discover that compassion, love, support and community comes to your aid when you need it the most.”


Miss Belgium Liesbeth Claus


On the official Miss Belgium website, the description of Claus translates as this, “Liesbeth is an enthusiastic Miss with a beautiful smile, who always dedicates 100%. She is 20 years old and lives in the picturesque Bassevelde. She loves to dance and dances since she was 6 years old. She has danced in the background during a concert by Cody Simpson … Liesbeth is a student in businsess management and she dreams of becoming a businesswoman later.” According to the Miss Universe website, Claus describes herself as full of energy and optimistic.


Miss Bolivia Gleisy Noguer


Noguer is a Social Communication student and enjoys playing sports as well. When Noguer first won her title as Miss Bolivia, she told El Pais Online, “I am very happy and very grateful to have received so much support and affection from my beautiful land Pando, thanks to all of you who made possible this dream of calling me Bolivia.”


Miss Brazil Monalysa Alcântara


In an interview with Cidadeverde, Alcantara admitted that she is very nervous, and in anticipation of tonight’s big event. She revealed that, “I’m very excited. I prepared a lot for this, bought what I needed and I’m doing everything with the greatest love and care possible.” Alcantara also told Pure People, “I am anxious, of course, but also very confident. It will be the first time I will be confined to people of other nationalities.”


Miss British Virgin Islands Khephra Sylvester


When Sylvester won Miss British Virgin Islands, she told BVI News that she didn’t even think she was going to win. She explained, “At first, I was a little worried [that I would not win]. I was a little nervous, but the judges’ decision touched me when they said ‘Contestant #6. I probably think that my consistency is what helped me to win this title, because I only won two segments. I would assume that I was consistent in the others – high enough to put me to the top.”


Miss Bulgaria Nikoleta Todorova


According to Pageanthology101, Todorova took over the Miss Bulgaria crown for an underage girl named Mira Simeonova. In an official announcement, it was revealed that, “Due to incomplete majority (under 18 years of age) of the currently crowned Miss Universe Bulgaria 2017 – Mira Simeonova, unfortunately she is not allowed to participate in the Miss Universe 2017 finals. The team of Bok Star Models, as the Miss Universe Official Licensee for Bulgaria, after submitting a meeting, chose а finalist from the final of Miss World and Miss Universe Bulgaria 2017 – Nikoleta Todorova for the new Miss Universe Bulgaria 2017! Nikoleta Todorova is 19 years old from Sofia, she’s a first year Archeology student in the St. Climent Ohridski University of Sofia.” In response to the honor, Todorova told Femina Beauty Pageants, “In my position as the new Miss Universe Bulgaria 2017, I would like to thank Mr Strahil Ganovski, Thanks for giving me this lovely opportunity to represent Bulgaria at one of the most prestigious beauty contests in the world”.


Miss Cambodia By Sotheary


By Sotheary is also known as Sotheary By, according to her Wikipedia page, but her official Miss Universe candidate video reports her name as By Sotheary. She has also competed in the Miss Earth 2017 Pageant, which was held earlier this month. The winner of Miss Earth ended up being Karen Ibasco from the Philippines.


Miss Canada Lauren Howe


The Toronto Sun reports that Howe is an industrial engineering graduate and she is also an entrepreneur. When she won Miss Universe Canada, it was actually her second attempt at the crown. When it comes to people talking badly about pageant life, Howe says, “Pageants are what you make of it. That’s the main difference. The quality of girls who enter this and what they’re looking for is different than what it used to be. Rather than … entering a pageant with the goals of “I want to be an international model,” the goals are now “I want to change lives.”


Miss Cayman Islands Anika Conolly


When Conolly won Miss Cayman Islands, she also took home the awards for Best Smile and Best in Gown, according to the Cayman Compass. In addition to having a college degree with a specialization in globalization, along with a certificate in human resources, Conolly is also an aspiring singer. And, when she was up for the opportunity to become Miss Cayman Islands, her advice to other candidates was this: “I think this is a very exciting time for the Cayman Islands because we have been a people wanting change for many years. My advice to the candidates running is to focus on matters that are truly important to us as Caymanians, like education. Knowledge is power and key to have a bright and prosperous future for the Cayman Islands.”


Miss Chile Natividad Leiva


Leiva enjoys a form of kickboxing when she needs to relieve stress and she likes to be spiritual. She is 25 years old and the major titles she has won thus far are Miss Earth Chile 2015 and Miss Universo Chile 2017. The first runner-up in the Miss Universo Chile pageant was Valentina Schnitzer.


Miss China Roxana Qiu


Qiu works as a model in Bejing when she is not competing in pageants and she says that she takes her work very seriously. Her Chinese name is Qiu Qiang and she hails from Chengdu, Sichuan, China. In addition to modeling, Qiang’s official Miss Universe bio reveals that, “She studied for four years in college earning herself a Musical Drama Degree. Roxette is the ambassador of the Beijing Adoption Day and with her work, she has rescued over 100 dogs during China Yulin dog festival last year from being slaughtered and eaten. When she isn’t helping animals, Roxette likes to act, hip-hop dance, sing, and box.”


Miss Colombia Laura González


Gonzalez is multi-lingual, speaking English and French in addition to Spanish. In high school, she attended the Modern Gymnasium of Cartagena, along with studying drama at the School of Actoral Training Casa Ensamble. One of Gonzalez’s causes is to help children with cancer and their families.


Miss Costa Rica Elena Correa


Correa loves the beauty of her country, but most of all, she loves the people. She tells Miss Universe that she hopes to one day become a doctor so that she can help others. According to the Costa Rican Times, Correa makes it a point to help people with cleft lip.


Miss Croatia Shanaelle Petty


In school, she was told that she wasn’t allowed to take certain courses because she was “that one black female” in the classes. She says that being a part of an organization like Miss Universe is all about confidence. She says her experiences in the past have readied her for this and that she has learned to overcome moments in her life where she was put down.


Miss Curacao Nashaira Balentien


Nashaira Balentien used to suffer from anxiety and now, bringing awareness to depression and anxiety is her major cause. When she was younger, she received professional help for her anxiety and today, she hopes to help others by bringing smiles to their faces. According to Indian And World Pageant, Balentien was Miss World Curacao in 2016, but she couldn’t participate in the 2017 Miss World pageant because of some personal reasons she was having.


Miss Czech Republic Michaela Habáňová


Habáňová adores ice skating and has been figure skating for many years. Today she studies physical therapy because of a personal injury she suffered years ago. The injury nearly ended her skating, but she was able to overcome the injury and she hopes to help others do the same, according to the Miss Universe Organization.


Miss Dominican Republic Carmen Muñoz


Miss DR’s titles have also included Miss International 2013. She is 24 years old and she is already a practicing lawyer at a prestigious law firm in her country. According to her Miss Universe bio, “This firm also has the empowering quality of being an all-female-firm and Carmen was hired on the spot, but it is her advocacy on behalf of women and children rights what defines her truest passions.” When it comes to her causes and charitable efforts, Munoz is the vice-president of “Making Big Smiles” and she also likes to focus on the high risk of teen pregnancy in her country.


Miss Ecuador Daniela Cepeda


When Cepeda’s younger brother became addicted to drugs, she started volunteering at her church. She also studied Psychopedagogy, which is a form of psychology, at the Casa Grande University. One of the biggest things that Cepeda says she has learned is to remain positive.


Miss Egypt Farah Sedky


As a teenager, Farah Sedky was bullied for being overweight, as she weighed in at 220 pounds, as reported by People. Sedky said that her classmates would constantly tease her and she recalled, “I was brutally bullied and to the point that I was once beaten by one of my peers.” Despite the bullying, it was her health risks and concern from her father that inspired her to get into better shape. Sedky began cutting her carbohydrates after 7 p.m. and also cut down her portion sizes when eating. Some other tips of hers include lemons, explaining that, “[Lemon] is so important Queen B [Beyoncé] made an entire album about it. I like yogurt with half a lemon and cinnamon, and lemon with hot water in the morning helps with your digestive system going.”


El Salvador Alisson Abarca


Alisson Abarca is 22 years old and hails from El Salvador. Her Miss Universe bio describes her as this, “Alisson Abarca is known for being on top as she was the Valedictorian of her high school graduating class. Currently, she is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in English Language as she hopes to be an English teacher at an English educational program. She hopes to create this program so that teenagers with economical needs can attend … She loves volunteering at the orphanage Padre Vito Guarato and at her church to help the homeless by providing food, clothing, medicine, toys and games for children.” Abarca says it’s also important to fight for one’s dreams.


Miss Ethiopia Akinahom Zergaw


Zergaw enjoys helping the less fortunate, from children to the elderly, who are homeless and on the street. Zergaw says that she believes charity work is one of the most important things in life, that it’s important to not be selfish and that everyone must share. When Zergaw is not helping others, she is studying management and fashion design, according to Tadias.


Miss Finland Michaela Söderholm


Söderholm is a dance coach and has been dancing for most of her life. She says that it has been a dream of hers to be as charismatic as some of the dancers she has watched on television over the years. Currently, this contestant is studying Business Administration and she previously worked in marketing for five years while traveling the world, visiting places like Helsinki, Sydney and London.


Miss France Alicia Aylies


Last year’s Miss Universe winner was from France and Alicia Aylies is this year’s representative from the country. Aylies was born an only child and when her parents separated, she went to Matoury, French Guiana with her mother. Later, she went on to study law, which is what she is currently exploring today.


Miss Georgia Marita Gogodze


Gogodze enjoys doing yoga, which appears to add calm to her life. Currently, she is in dental school, working her way to become an orthodontist. At the same time, she is a model who works at IC Model Management. Gogodze has participated in several fashion weeks in addition to print modeling as well.


Miss Germany Sophia Koch


Koch has a very close relationship with her parents and family. She says that she grew up in a great family with a lot of love and attention. One of Koch’s causes is to help children who suffer in their home environments. She says that she hopes to help “empower our future generation.”


Miss Ghana Ruth Quashie


Quashie is a Business Administration Graduate from the University Of Ghana, but also works as a successful model. According to her Miss Universe bio, she has been “active in runway, fashion and lingerie for over seven years, she has been featured by many major brands. Ruth is fluent in English, Fante & Twi, and is always up to travel and explore.” Her aim as a pageant queen is to help others with their self-esteem through social actions.


Miss Great Britain Anna Burdzy


Currently, Anna Burdzy is working on her Masters degree, focusing on human rights. She said that she tries to break the mold even though she is a hard-working person. She hopes to choose a career where she can help people all over the world.


Miss Guam Myana Welch


Since she was a child, Welch wanted to be an entrepreneur, with her mother as her inspiration. She watched her mom open several catering businesses. One was a failure, while the other was a huge success. Welch tells the Miss Universe Organization that this taught her a lot about business, with its ups and downs.


Miss Guatemala Isel Suñiga


The description of Miss Guatemala’s Miss Universe bio, reads, “Isel Suñigal is a law student passionate about giving back to her community. She is an active member of groups that focus on helping people with disabilities and unadvantaged children access into sports. Isel has dedicated 7 years to supporting children in a state of malnutrition and giving them survival necessities. Isel likes riding horse and traveling the world, getting to know different cultures and ways of life. One day she hopes to continue her positive influence as mayoress of her town.”


Miss Guyana Rafieya Husain


Rafieya Husain is a domestic violence survivor as she was in an abusive relationship when she was just 18 years old. Husain’s Miss Universe bio states that, “As a domestic abuse survivor, she founded Rafieya’s International Vision & Hope (RIVAH), a non-profit organization whose mission is to rebuild a strong foundation of values for our young people through advocacy, community education, public policy and research … Rafieya wants to be the inspiration and voice for young women everywhere encouraging them to work hard for their dreams.” To pay for her education, Husain works as a financial accountant.


Miss Haiti Cassandra Chéry


Cassandra Chéry is 22 years old and she says she loves photo shoots. She never tires of posing and being in photographs. No matter what she is wearing, she loves being in front of the camera.


Miss Honduras April Tobie


Tobie comes from a tourist area and says that she is very much an island girl. She is currently a student in the capital of Honduras and she also is a volleyball player. According to Earn the Necklace, Tobie is studying international trade at The National Autonomous University of Honduras. In addition to studying and playing sports, Tobie also enjoys walking in Honduras Fashion Week as a model.


Miss Iceland Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir


Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir says that she wants to share her story with women throughout the world and spread positivity. As a role model, she has many accomplishments under her belt and her Miss Universe bio describes her as this, “Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir is an accomplished international print and commercial model who hopes to one day become a midwife. She embraces a healthy lifestyle and with that was inspired to create personal blog about her journey. When she’s taking a break from her blog, Arna can be spotted cooking healthy and new recipes. Arna is also athletic and is proud to have been an Icelandic champion in track and field pole vaulting.”


Miss India Shraddha Shashidhar


Shashidhar prides herself on being a part of the motto, “One home. One family.” She tells the Miss Universe Organization that because her father is in the army, she has traveled throughout her country a great deal. Shashidhar says that traveling so much has allowed her to be very accepting and adaptive to different cultures.


Miss Indonesia Bunga Jelitha


Jelitha has been modeling since she was just 13 years old and this is a great passion of hers. She is the youngest daughter in her family and, at one point, she made the tough decision to drop out of school so that she could help her family members financially. She is currently signed with Jakarta International Management (JIM Models) and she has won many modeling contests.


Miss Iraq Sarah Idan


When Idan turned 18 years old, she started working for the US military as a linguist, like Spanish, English, Arabic, and French. She then went on to moving to the United States and attending college. She then graduated from MI(Musician Institute) with a degree in performance arts in Los Angeles, California. Idan greatly enjoys music.


Miss Ireland Cailín Toíbín


Cailín Toíbín is able to speak her national language and there are only 17,000 who can speak the language. She calls her country “small and mighty”. Toíbín is currently a Business Retail Management student, a coastal rower, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for mental health. Her involvement with mental health stems from her own struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, according to the Miss Universe Organization.


Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman


Gandelsman is a soldier in the Israeli army and she is from Ashkelon, which is in the southern district of Israel. She also sells athletic wear on her own website and she imports the clothing from Brazil. She tells the Miss Universe Organization that everything she does, she does with joy.


Miss Italy Maria Polverino


Polverino has a tattoo that reads, “For the first time,” and it is a lyric from a favorite song of hers. She says that this will be her only tattoo ever. She didn’t discuss the actual song that the line is taken from. In addition to being inspired by music, she also has a great passion for traveling and for boxing.


Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett


Bennett says that her country is very authentic in their lives and everything that they do. On her official Facebook page, Bennett describes herself as this, “I am a young model aspiring to do great things in the near future, help others and to be a good role model for everyone.” And, when Bennett was crowned Miss Jamaica, she told the Jamaica Observer, “It’s a wonderful feeling. I have been through a lot of struggles, but I worked really hard and just to see that it has all paid off feels great. It is really a blessing and I am really grateful to all my supporters. Fashion modelling was not really going my way, so I decided to take another route to get my voice and message out there. I see the Miss Universe platform as being a great way to spread the word about my foundation for the deaf.”


Miss Japan Momoko Abe


Momoko Abe says she started playing golf when she was just 6 years old and is now an expert golfer. Abe also is a student and an actress, appearing to be following in her father Yuji Abe’s footsteps. Yuji Abe is actually an actor and television reporter. Currently, Momoko Abe is studying Philosophy at the Sacred Heart School in Tokyo.


Miss Kazakhstan Kamilla Assilova


Assilova works as a choreographer and she loves dancing as a form of expression. Assilova, who comes from a small village, has a range of interests and her official Miss Universe bio reads, “Kamila dreams of becoming a public figure, fighting for the rights and protection of women against domestic violence. In her spare time, Kamilla can be found singing and dancing to folk. Uniquely, Kamilla actively participates in car racing and has even won a competition.”


Miss Korea Cho SeWhee


SeWhee is a woman of many talents. She enjoys hiking, the outdoors, playing the piano and taking on new experiences. She has also opened her own business online, which is an internet shopping mall. SeWhee hopes to challenge herself through her experiences.


Miss Laos Souphaphone Somvichith


This is the debut appearance for the country of Laos in the Miss Universe Competition. Souphaphone Somvichith is the first person to represent the country and, outside of pageants, she enjoys practicing Taekwondo martial arts. She has even won the National Championship for it, telling Miss Universe that it is a very popular sport and that her sisters participate in it as well.


Miss Lebanon Jana Sader


According to Femina Beauty Pageants, Sader dished on her representing Lebanon at the Miss Universe Pageant. She stated that, “I will make my people proud and surely give my hundred percent to win the beauty pageant.” Sader is 20 years old.


Miss Malaysia Samantha James


James revealed in her Miss Universe interview that she actually grew up in a foster family. She says that she ended up moving out at 17 years old to “figure out” her life. James’ Miss Universe official bio reads, “As an only child to a single mother, she was raised by guardians almost her whole life. As a result, she became independent at an early age. After being discovered as a model, her assignments have taken her around the world and given her the opportunity to experience living in different countries and working with people of various cultural backgrounds.”


Miss Malta Tiffany Pisani


Pisani actually won Cycle 6 of Britain’s Next Top Model in 2010 and she has appeared in music videos as well as in several magazines. While on Britain’s Next Top Model, the host and judges actually had her chop off her trademark long hair. She then had a pixie crop hairdo. For a while, after winning the reality talent competition, Pisani laid down some roots in London, England. In addition to modeling, Pisani works as a DJ.


Miss Mauritius Angie Callychurn


Callychurn says that she used to be a social butterfly, but became introverted when she got into a romantic relationship. She later learned how to again, break out of her shell. According to her Miss Universe bio, Callychurn, “studied Mass Communications and is a qualified Colour Consultant. She wishes to follow up with an Image Consulting course in the hope of launching her career as a certified Image Consultant. She also aspires to boost the career and personal achievements of others by promoting self-confidence.” She also enjoys outdoor activities in her native country.


Miss Mexico Denisse Franco


Franco tells Miss Universe that she is proud of Mexican women, that they are strong and fight for what they want to achieve. Titles that Franco has won in her pageant career include Nuestra Belleza Sinaloa and Nuestra Belleza México 2017. In addition to pageants, Franco works as a professional model, much like many of her fellow competitors at the Miss Universe pageant.


Miss Myanmar Zun Than Sin


Music is very important to Than Sin and her country, as she explained to the Miss Universe Organization. She hopes to one day be successful in the field of music. According to her Miss Universe Myanmar profile, Than Sin is currently studying acting at the National University of Arts and Culture. Her ultimate ambition on the website is to become Miss Universe.


Miss Namibia Suné January


January says that her country is unique because it’s where the desert meets the ocean. She says that the rest of the country belongs to the animals and that she uses her platform to bring awareness about preventing poaching, focusing on the rhinos. According to The Namibian, January took home the honors of Top Model, Athletics and the Photogenic awards when she was crowned Miss Namibia. Upon winning the title, she said, “It’s really overwhelming, I didn’t really expect it but I never underestimated any of the other girls, they were good, they were beautiful, they all had potential.”


Miss Nepal Nagma Shrestha


This is the debut of Nepal at the Miss Universe pageant and Nagma Shrestha is the country’s representative. She is the first Miss Universe Nepal 2017 and is the first pageant queen from Nepal to reach the finals in an international competition. Currently, she appears on the Image Channel and has been appearing as a VJ on the network. She also currently is a host and producer for her own travel show on the network. It’s titled “Steps” and some episodes of the show are posted on her YouTube account, which you can browse through by clicking here.


Miss Netherlands Nicky Opheij


Opheij is a Dutch actress and model who won Holland’s Next Top Model in 2014. For her prize, she took home a modeling contract worth 50,000 euros, a cover with the online magazine Amayzine.com and a new car. According to Indian and World Pageant, Opheij is an aspiring food consultant, who is also an architectural designer.


Miss New Zealand Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia


Ihaia grew up very much involved with the indigenous culture and the Maori people. She says she is in love with her culture and is proud to be herself. In her Miss Universe bio, it further explains how much Ihaia’s culture is a part of her life. The bio states, “Harlem-Cruz is a qualified early childhood kōhanga reo teacher who has just graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in the Māori language, having achieved her degree in record time. She is a fluent te reo Māori speaker, and she comes from a strong background which encourages her to stand as a proud Māori woman. She is proud of her roots in Napier—her great-aunt was the model for the iconic Pania of the Reef statue in the city in the 1950s—and of her tribal affiliations with Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou.”


Miss Nicaragua Berenice Quezada


According to Earn the Necklace, Berenice Quezada’s passion is in empowering women and she is currently a sixth year student of medicine. Her official Miss Universe bio reads, “Berenice Quezada Herrera grew up facing many obstacles, but has managed to achieve many of her dreams that have allowed her to support many different charities. Berenice works with Nueva Vida, where she speaks with women to empower and encourage them to become entrepreneurs. She would best consider herself as adventourous as she loves riding horses and swimming. If she brings the Miss Universe crown to her country for the very first time, she will focus on youth education and will continue to support and empower entrepreneur single women to achieve their goals on being successful.”


Miss Nigeria Stephanie Agbasi


Stephanie Agbasi grew up being shy and quiet, but she says today she is really happy that she has spoken up and come out of her shell. She stresses the importance of loving one’s self. When Agbasi won the title of Miss Nigeria, she also took home the Best Traditional Costume award. According to Information Nigeria, Agbasi is presently a law student at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.


Miss Norway Kaja Kojan


In anticipation of tonight’s big event, Kojan wrote the following message yesterday in an email to Glåmdalen: “Absolutely amazing how fast the days have gone! Tomorrow is the crucial night that gives me the answer if I come back to Norway or if the journey continues to New York for a year.”


Miss Panama Laura de Sanctis


Laura de Sanctis is a Panamanian actress and model, whose beauty pageant titles have included Señorita Panamá 2017 and Miss Contadora 2017. According to Expreso, de Sanctis has a lot of experience in the fashion industry and she has been a model since she was just 5 years old. Over the years, she has modeled for big designers, acted in commercials and appeared in advertising campaigns. Her first participation in a pageant was at the age of 16, when she won the title of Miss Teenager 2014 in Guatemala.


Miss Paraguay Ariela Machado


During the preliminaries of the Miss Paraguay pageant, Ariela Machado also won the title of Miss Top Model. Currently, as reported by the Miss Universe Organization, Machado is pursuing her Business Administration degree at the American University of Asuncion. In addition, she is the head of the administration department at a company called PayGo. She also does volunteer work for children with cancer.


Miss Peru Prissila Howard


Prissila Howard prides herself on following her dreams, following the motto that “you only live once.” In addition to participating in pageants, Howard is also a TV host and a model. She is also a graduate in Human Resources and Business Administration. In her pageant career, her awards include the title of Miss Elegance and Best Runway at the 2009 Miss Teenager Peru Pageant, the winner of the 2010 Miss Teen del Pacifico, the first runner-up for Miss Grand Peru 2016, a top 10 contestant in the 2016 Miss Grand International Pageant and the winner of Miss Peru 2017.


Miss Philippines Rachel Peters


Rachel Peters has been in the media lately as one of the favorites to excel in the Miss Universe competition, according to GMA Network. She is a surfer and she says she is inspired by her fans and the people of her country. Peters says it’s important to spread love and kindness.


Miss Poland Katarzyna Włodarek


According to The Great Pageant Community, Katarzyna Włodarek currently works as a doctor and she is just 25 years old. Both of her parents are doctors and she says that she was inspired by them, watching them work as she was growing up. She enjoys being able to help other people. As a resident in the first year of her residency program in Dermatology and Venereology, she is always learning and, as a PHD, she also teaches current medical students as well.


Miss Portugal Matilde Lima


Earn the Necklace reports that Matilde Lima attended the Academia de Música e Belas Artes Luisa Todi and Conservatório Regional de Setúbal in order to become a pianist. Her sister was her inspiration for becoming a musician. Lima is also fluent in English and Portuguese. In addition to being bilingual and loving music, Lima has an interest in fashion and also enjoys working with unprivileged children.


Miss Puerto Rico Danna Hernández


Danna Hernández studies at the Department of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing at the University of Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the effects of hurricane damage have been taking their toll on the country in recent months. During the preliminary competition for the Miss Universe Competition, Hernández talked about the effects of Hurricane Maria on her country, saying, “We are in a difficult situation that we are not used to and that many changes are coming … This atmospheric disaster has brought out the best of Puerto Ricans and has brought us together as a people.” Hernández has also said that she is an active member of the Red Cross of Puerto Rico.


Miss Romania Ioana Mihalache


Mihalache is very proud of her education, but also enjoys modeling, which she began at the age of 15. She is also an Economist and has a Master’s degree in Economics. Her accomplishments when it comes to pageants includes 3rd runner-up at the Miss Universe Romania 2012, first runner-up at Miss Universe Romania 2013, and the winner of Miss Universe Romania 2017.


Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova


Kseniya Alexandrova believes in the importance of keeping healthy and according to her official Miss Universe bio, “Kseniya Aleksandrova graduated from the Plechanov Russian Economic University with a Finance degree while also working as a model. Since the age of 19, she has been working with two Moscow model agencies to support herself financially. She plans to continue her studies and earn a second degree in Journalism.”


Miss Saint Lucia Louise Victor


Louise Victor says she prides herself on being genuine and, Loop St. Lucia reports that Victor has earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with Honors from Monroe College in New York. Victor has worked as a marketing executive and in finance as well. She hopes to one day be a global Public Relations consultant for an organization such as UNICEF, the Olympics, the World Cup or FIFA.


Miss Singapore Manuela Bruntraeger


Bruntraeger is a graduate of LASALLE College of the Arts and, in addition to being Miss Singapore, she also won the title of Miss Earth Singapore 2016. According to the Miss Universe Organization, “Before embarking on her Miss Universe journey, Manuela spent three years pursuing a BA in Fine Arts and has recently channeled her creative talents toward creating artwork for charity art auctions. When taking a break from being a beauty queen, Manuela enjoys exploring the great outdoors and learning about new cultures.”


Miss Slovakia Vanessa Bottánová


Vanessa Bottánová loves traveling and learning about different cultures, so it makes sense that she’s been studying Tourism, Traveling and Information Technologies. Her biggest dream is to have her own clothing brand and she enjoys new experiences. She also has a dream to one day own a dog shelter, as reported by the Miss Universe Organization.


Miss Slovenia Emina Ekić


Growing up, Ekić dealt with bullying in high school because her parents were Bosnian. She says that she would love to see her country be more accepting of people from other countries. She also jokes that her country is special even though it’s small.


Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters


Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is supposed to be a front-runner this year at the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant, but we will have to see how she does in the show tonight. Independent Online says that Nel-Peters is “the one to beat.” Peters’ official Miss Universe bio reads, “Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters recently earned her degree in Business Management at North West University after making history at her high school for holding two leadership positions. Demi-Leigh’s biggest motivation comes from her half-sister who has a disability, that lives in Potchefstroom with her stepmother and father. In her spare time, Demi-Leigh is passionate about a program she helped develop to train women in self-defense in various situations. She plans to share these workshops and help as many women as she can.”


Miss Spain Sofía del Prado


Sofía del Prado says she would love to work in the fields of international communication and international commerce. She says that representing her country has been a dream for her, but she intends to continue to push the limit and create new dreams for herself. She says that it’s important to focus on things that unite everyone, rather than their differences.


Miss Sri Lanka Christina Peiris


Christina Peiris learned to be patient over the years as she worked towards her dreams. She now has a company and she donates some of the proceeds to those suffering from cancer. When she was a child, she lost her mother to the disease and cancer has also affected other members in her family. The hospital bills were difficult to manage and she wants to help others deal with the affects of cancer.


Miss Sweden Frida Fornander


Frida Fornander says that it’s important to know one’s value. She says that she was often put down, that she wasn’t beautiful enough, thin or smart enough. When she started modeling at a young age, she was rejected by an agency, but today, she is a success at modeling. The titles she has won as a beauty queen include Miss Earth Sweden 2014 and Miss Universe Sweden 2017.


Miss Tanzania Lilian Maraule


Maraule is a radio personality and model, working for Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation International. According to her Miss Universe official bio, “Lilian Ericaah Maraule is a radio personality and producer for a program dedicated to African culture and lifestyle. Lilian dreams to use her career as a source of hope for young girls, especially those who come from difficult backgrounds like her. Lilian has defied her odds and propelled herself into an education and career with the pure desire to succeed. This is her first pageant and she is so excited to inspire young girls to get an education and to follow their wildest dreams, because if she hadn’t done the same, she would never be where she is now.”


Miss Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp


Miss Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp is said to be a big contender at this year’s pageant and she is also known as Maria Lynn Ehren. She is quite accomplished, as a graduate with her Master’s degree and she started modeling at age 14 with Elle Thailand. She is multilingual and she speaks Thai, English, Swedish and Chinese. Poonlertlarp is a practicing Theravada Buddhist and her causes include gender equality and proper care for the homeless.


Miss Trinidad and Tobago Yvonne Clarke


Clarke’s mother and sisters were all pageant queens, so they were each inspirations to her in competing. In recent weeks, Clarke was actually disqualified and stripped of her title, but Loop reports that she was reinstated at the beginning of November 2017. When Clarke was first disqualified, Miss Universe franchise holder, Jenny Douglas, released the following statement, “The Miss Universe T&T committee has voted unanimously to disqualify Miss Yvonne Clarke from representing Trinidad and Tobago in this year’s Miss Universe 2017 Pageant competition. We are saddened by this turn of events however we have to maintain our strict contractual agreements. We will, however, make sure another suitable representative will go and who will abide by the Miss Universe T&T rules and regulations under their contractual agreement.”


Miss Turkey Pinar Tartan


Music is Tartan’s passion and Earn the Necklace reports that she is studying law at Yasar University so that she can fight for women’s rights. She says she wants to help women to keep them aware of their “humanitarian rights and judicial rights.” She hopes to help them find their purpose in life.


Miss Ukraine Yana Krasnikova


Yana Krasnikova speaks over five languages and she is currently working on learning even more of them. She says this is her hobby because she likes learning about different cultures. Krasnikova is both a model and singer, who is helping write a book about Ukrainian celebrities in Hollywood.


Miss United States Kára McCullough


McCullough works as a physical scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and she graduated from South Carolina State University with a degree in chemistry and concentration in radiochemistry. She actually was a member of S.C. State’s Honors College, the American Chemical Society, the Health Physics Society, the American Association of Blacks in Engineering and the American Nuclear Society. According to Refinery29, McCullough funds a program called Science Exploration for Kids (SE4K), which offers math and science-based tutoring to students grades six to eleven.


Miss Uruguay Marisol Acosta


Acosta says that her parents taught her to have good morals, so she tries to stick to that in her every day life. She hopes to show that being in a pageant isn’t just about having a pretty face. Her Miss Universe official bio reads, “Marisol Acosta has kept herself busy the last couple of years studying fashion design in hopes of one day having her own brand and clothing shop. Besides fashion, she has always been fond of dancing, travel, flora and fauna, and cooking local dishes. Marisol also has an althetic side as she is experienced in handball, football and basketball.”


Miss U.S. Virgin Islands Esonica Veira


Veira is a makeup artist and model coach, which definitely works for her since she is a pageant queen. She started as a model at the age of 9 with Roses and Champagne Agency. In 2007, she was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model and in 2008, she was a finalist in the singing competition, V.I. Idol, as reported by Caribbean Posh.


Miss Venezuela Keysi Sayago


Sayago is a Mechanical Engineer of National Experimental University of the Armed Forces in Los Teques, Miranda. And, according to her Miss Universe official bio, “Keysi has always had an interest in mechanical equipment and how things work, which has led her to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. Since she was crowned Miss Universe Venezuela 2016, Keysi has given services to different organizations to provide food and shelter to children and adults who have lack of resources in vulnerable situations. In her free time, Keysi enjoys reading, cooking and outdoor activities including skydiving and scuba diving. If Keysi takes home the Miss Universe crown, her mission would be to help those in need and promote wellbeing in order to have a better society.”


Miss Vietnam Loan Nguyen


Miss Vietnam’s background is truly impressive. The Miss Universe Organization states that, “Growing up in a farmer’s family in an underprivileged rural village of Vietnam, Nguyen Loan spent most of her childhood without parental care and soon left home at 14 years old to lead an independent life. Serving in the army at age 14 helped develop her sense of responsibility, disciplines and maturity much sooner and greater than other peers of her generation. During her path of career-defining, she has done a lot of jobs, including hand-embroidery, tutoring, modeling, business and event hosting. To represent Vietnam at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, she went on a journey of seven years competing in beauty contests. Having done a lot of charity projects in her philanthropy portfolio, she doesn’t stop reaching out and is currently involved in building a school for children in the mountains. She is also building pools to support drowning prevention programs for rural children.


Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti


Isabel Chikoti says that her experiences in life are unique, as no one has the same journey. She says that even in the face of sadness and pain, she still finds a way to smile. Chikoti has a degree in Management at the Faculty of Economics, according to the Miss Universe Organization, and she hopes to use her platform in order to help her country.