On August 23rd, before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of approximately 1
billion viewers, Miss Venezuela Stefania Fernandez’s life changed forever as she was
crowned Miss Universe 2009 from Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. The win was a
milestone for the Miss Universe Organization as it was the first time that a country has
won back-to-back crowns in the pageant’s storied history (following fellow Venezuelan
Dayana Mendoza’s victory in 2008).
Hailing from Merida, Venezuela, 19-year-old Fernandez made the untraditional
decision to leave home at a very young age to start pursuing her dreams. Fernandez’s
ambition lies in international relations and affairs, which is a natural precursor for her
role as Miss Universe. She is also interested in the importance of arts as a tool for
childhood education and free thinking.
Since early childhood, Fernandez has been regaled by her grandmother’s stories of
world travel. “I loved hearing about the adventures of my elders, and I can only hope
to one day follow in their footsteps and experience the world.” She originally entered
the pageant world to meet new people, garner valuable life experience and, most
importantly, learn English.
Fernandez, despite her more recent accomplishments, is no stranger to setbacks. After
leaving home at age 16, she began competing in beauty pageants in preparation of
one day contending for the Miss Universe title. She purports to have amassed a strong
sense of determination and resolve after a judge in one of her early regional pageants
told her that she would have no future in beauty contests. “When faced with
negativity and being told that I would never make it, the true competitor in me grew
stronger,” says the 5’10 brunette beauty. “Even though I am young, I am fortunate that
I have been challenged by many people to abandon my goals. It gave me just
another reason to never give up and to never stop moving forward.”
Fernandez comes from a close-knit family. Her father was kidnapped when she was 14-
years-old and she asserts that this traumatic experience helped her appreciate all that
In her free time, Fernandez is an avid swimmer and tennis player. She is a regular
volunteer with “Piensa en Arte” which helps children expand their creative thinking
capabilities through art.
Fernandez will spend her year championing the official causes of the Miss Universe
Organization. She will work to increase HIV/AIDS awareness by focusing on women's
health and reproductive issues. She will also work to forge new relationships with
organizations committed to research and education such as the Latino Commission
on AIDS, God’s Love We Deliver, PSI/YouthAIDS and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.