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feature ● miss universe exit interview Pia Powers Ahead As she reflects on her year as Miss Universe 2016, Pia Wurtzbach can hardly contain her excitement about what lies ahead R ecognized as one of the most active titleholders in years, global ambassador Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach reminisces on her exciting year traversing the globe and speaks with Pageantry about her renowned crowning moment and her pride of returning to her home coun- try of the Philippines to crown her successor. The 2016 Miss Universe Pageant will forever be remembered for its crowning moment. However, one mo- ment does not define, nor truly encap- sulate, the embodiment of the title nor the titleholder. With the proclamation of Pia Wurtzbach as Miss Universe 2016, the global community, and espe- cially the country of the Philippines- after so many close calls, celebrated the beauty, glamour, and worldwide phe- nomenon of its newest queen. As a global ambassador of HIV Awareness, Pia was in constant mo- tion, throughout her travels while spreading the word about preventative measures of this insidious disease. When she crowns her successor in 122 PAGEANTRY front of her home-country fans, her moment as the Miss Universe title- holder will come to an end. However, rest assured that Pia will not be resting on her laurels, but continuing her busy travel schedule as she pursues the next chapter of her life. Pageantry magazine: As surreal as it was, what memory still stands out once you realized you were, in fact, Miss Universe? Pia Wurtzbach: When I was finally wearing the crown and the sash, I was able to start letting the reality sink in. I don’t think any Miss Universe actually believes it until that moment, especial- ly in my case. The morning after the competition is still a surreal time, as well. Once you are on the plane to New York City though, you definitely realize your life is going to be a bit dif- ferent now, and I can’t wait for the op- portunities ahead. PM: You have been extremely visi- ble this year as Miss Universe. How do you deal with constantly being in the spotlight? PW: I don’t mind being in the spot- light, especially if I am able to use it to my advantage for the causes I care about. Sure, having public attention has its ups and downs for your person- al life. That said, I always knew that it was part of the job, so I was prepared. PM: Miss Universe is recognized as a great supporter of HIV Awareness. What have you been able to impart this year to help raise social and government awareness? PW: I have been talking about this issue throughout my whole reign, even before, when I was competing, I was able to recognize this disease on the in- ternational stage during the live broad- cast of the competition. I have been introduced to so many incredible groups of people who work tirelessly to increase education on prevention and funding for research and medical care. I am grateful for the platform I was provided as Miss Universe to even fur- ther my own education about HIV/AIDS, so I can continue my mis- sion and message long after my reign. I started my reign as Miss Universe Philippines encouraging my country to recognize this issue and break the stig-