Today we are catching up with Anastasia Puia of Western Australia, one of the 29 talented and inspiring women from all walks of life who are hoping to be crowned Miss Universe Australia 2021.
So Anya, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Anastasia Puia, and I am your newest Aussie Citizen (my family and I have just been granted our full Australian citizenship this year)!
We are initially from Romania, but I grew up in New Zealand for most of my childhood. We immigrated to Perth, Western Australia, in 2010 and have since adored living here. I am so in love with this country, its opportunities and particularly its HOT weather. I am such a sucker for Australian summer- you will ALWAYS find me by the pool or by the beach during my downtime, in the hot months, with my friends or family.
I am also a huge people person. I’m very empathetic, and with my European upbringing, we have always been taught to give back to others. I’m currently studying full time at the University of Western Australia, completing a Double Major in Psychology (with the intention to complete my post-graduate studies somewhere in the field of organisational/ management psychology).
I’m also the biggest sport’s lover and artist. I won every single championship sports carnival throughout my whole schooling life, and I have broken some state track records. I was also accepted into the prestigious gifted and talented art program in high school. I used to train as a professional ballerina and was awarded many scholarships to dance in Russia and London but later went on to try other sports such as volleyball and soccer.
Fun fact about me: I was accepted into the women’s state soccer team and have often substituted for injured players in the men’s teams!
We all have motivations, mine usually revolving around good coffee, but what was your key motivation for entering the Miss Universe Australia competition?
I love that! Coffee is an incredible motivator for sure, haha !!
The Miss Universe competition was something that I always admired growing up. It was the prestige, the beauty and the admiration associated with the competition that really fascinated me. For someone like me, growing up with a competition that valued excellence, achievement, education, and beauty so highly was almost magical. It motivated me so much to become this exact version of myself!
Because of Miss Universe, I want to see and meet the world for myself. I have so much to offer, and this is the best forum/platform to give me this chance! Hence, why I put my application forward.
As part of the program, you recently spent some time up in our hometown of the Gold Coast with the Village Roadshow team; what was the experience like?
The experience was honestly THE BEST. I wish I could put into words how much fun we all had and how ridiculously spoilt we were.
There was a bit of hesitation, to begin with, when we first discovered that we were staying at the Sea World Resort, due to the animals being in captivity. However, I must say that besides the trip being so enjoyable, it was also a huge educational rollercoaster.
I learnt so much from just being there and was very surprised and relieved to see the initiatives that the park takes to ensure the health of those animals in captivity and those in the wild. They took responsible ownership and were very honest about their not-so-positive histories with capturing the animals, and I think that by taking the necessary moral steps forward to make a difference was really inspiring.
We were also given VIP passes to all the Gold Coast Theme parks (including Wet n Wild and Movie World) one hour before they even opened!! I mean, come on, if that isn’t one hell of an experience, then I don’t know what is! I faced many of my fears and jumped on a few rollercoasters, and made friends of a lifetime.
I loved how the Miss Universe Australia team purposefully paired us up with contestants from other states because it sparked some of the best friendships and conversations. I personally loved my roomie, and she was actually from the Gold Coast, so I was honestly so lucky to get the whole experience of being there!
We were also served some divine food and deserts! Every night we had something different (ranging from Italian to Japanese food), and we never went to bed with an empty stomach!
We also had our official Rusty Swimwear Photoshoots taken at Sea World, and it’s just crazy to see what a team of creatives are capable of doing when faced with the opportunity. I was allocated the “child’s play” theme, and being sceptical at the start of it all made the experience even more exciting because the result was phenomenal!
We were so fortunate to have a very capable photographer in Jarrad Seng take us through this experience, and the backstage make-up and hair team was so incredible!
Not to mention, we also got high-quality runway training with Miss Universe Nicaragua 2008: Thelma Rodriguez!
We even celebrated one of our beloved finalist friends 21st on the Movie World Runway- where we surprised her with a huge cake! This trip brought us all together so much and it was honestly one of the best trips I have ever been on!
What would you say was the highlight of your trip?
This is such an incredibly hard question because I adored every single moment of being there! But if I have to choose… I must say, celebrating Ally’s 21st at Movie World was one of the best highlights!
Our whole team were at Movie World that afternoon with Thelma to do some more runway practice and, after an hour’s worth of training, we were put into pairs to finish the day on the runway together. We, as a team, but so much secretive effort to surprise her during our runway training at Movie World! One of the girls was allocated the job to partner with and keep Ally at the back of the line so that the whole team would be at the end of the runway (ready to surprise her), and it was hilarious seeing the challenge of it all.
Ally is quite the personality and does not like going last and would often question: “why go in the back, I don’t understand?” HAHA, so trying to get her into that position (just to surprise her) was so funny and so much fun!
Eventually, once she was convinced enough and finally reached the back of the line, she walked to the end of the runway, and we all suddenly jumped aside (as we had her 21st birthday cake right behind us) and just started singing the “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” song, and we even started dancing all together in a huge circle with the Movie World speakers on and it was honestly so magical.
We eventually finished the night off at the amazing Outback Spectacular show and later stayed up so late in her room, just reminiscing over the day.
Being together as a team that day was such a highlight!
If you win the title of Miss Universe Australia, you will receive the prestigious Minespec Parts Education and Business grant worth $20,000; what would you do with the grant and why?
Honestly, we are so lucky to have this opportunity!
My end goal is to become an organisational psychologist. It would be my dream to work with businesses (through psychological methods) to help them thrive and help organisations inspire a thriving and resilient work culture.
Doing this includes a few years of study, starting from a bachelor’s all the way through to a masters and doctorates degree (which I am very committed to completing).
With this, I am looking for a way to finance myself through all this, and I would like to start investing in properties to build a portfolio of assets that would generate an income sufficient to allow me to focus on my goal.
Therefore, if I were to be selected to represent Australia in the Miss Universe competition and thus, receive the prestigious Minespec parts Education and Business Grant worth $20,000, I would use this money to start with my first investment and slowly grow my portfolio. So that one day I can work as an organisational psychologist and give back to our community and Australian businesses.
With everyone bringing their own unique and individual flair to the competition, what is something that sets you apart from the other contestants?
Each and every single one of us have our own unique and individual flair to the competition for me personally- I have always viewed the winner of Miss Universe Australia as an incredibly inspiring individual.
Without a doubt, what comes with the crown of Miss Universe Australia will be both life-changing and at times, challenging. Therefore, I personally believe that the titleholder needs to be someone who is resilient in nature and has the capability to withstand and persevere through all experiences, and this is a quality that I truly feel I entail.
I believe that the ability to remain optimistic and hopeful, no matter the circumstances, is a trait that is rare yet crucial for a role such as this one. This is a trait that I am very proud to have grown up with, and I believe it acts as my point of difference. I believe that the winner of Miss Universe Australia also needs to possess a deep appreciation for her country and is willing to stand up for it without question- with poise, elegance, and pride. My love, appreciation, and commitment to this country and all its wonderful opportunities is the strongest of them all. I moved here and took all my chances; I push myself forward every single day and am so grateful for the opportunities that this country offers me.
I also believe that a truly inspiring trait that encompasses that of a Miss Universe Australia winner is one who celebrates high achievement and works ridiculously hard for herself and for others. Someone who is incredibly empathetic and selfless and will consistently put her hand forward for others. With absolute confidence and humbleness, I believe I have this particular trait that strongly sets me apart from others.
With my resilient and empathetic nature, love and commitment for this country and highly optimistic and ambitious qualities, I think I entail significant differences from others that may work for my advantage. Differences, that I promise to take forward in this journey and teach to others, should I be selected for the crown.
The last eighteen months certainly have been challenging for all of us; what would you say has been something you’ve gained or learned from the whole experience?
The last eighteen months have certainly been challenging for all of us, and it really is so unfortunate!
It is without a doubt, that these circumstances have caused so much grief, so much confusion and so much division in our nation. Therefore, one thing I have learnt from this whole experience is: do not be afraid.
I think fear is our biggest enemy and by letting it engulf us, it causes so much harm. Learning how to remain optimistic and hopeful through times like this is crucial. Learning how to take a step back, how to remain calm, how to ask questions and encouraging yourself to become more educated is what got me through this whole experience the best.
What is the first thing you hope to do as soon as restrictions are lifted?
The minute restrictions are lifted, I want to book the first flight (for my family and I) to New Zealand to see our best friends and to Romania to see our beloved family!
It has been so long, and I can only just imagine that beautiful feeling when we re-unite again!
Final Five Questions
Favourite Place to Travel To?
My hometowns: New Zealand and Romania
The highlight of the last year?
he national finalist trip to the Gold Coast
What is something people may find interesting about yourself?
I can speak two languages, being Romanian and English
Tell us something you’re passionate about and why?
Lately, now than ever, I have become more and more passionate about the concept of resilience and perseverance. I think that the sudden shift in reality revolving around COVID has definitely been responsible for this passion. This is because I have seen how detrimental a lack of resilience can be to the mental health of many people. Throughout my life, I have always learnt how to be the best version of myself, how to remain positive and resilient and I truly believe this is the reason why I am here today, hence, why I am so passionate about it.
One piece of advice you have for us all?
Do not ever be afraid!
Thank you to
Minespec Parts are proud to be partnering with Miss Universe Australia, Working to empower and support women not just through the Miss Universe Australia pageant and their $20k education and business grant, but through many platforms with various activities across Australia all furthering and supporting women in the workplace.