Monika Radulovic isn’t your average Miss Universe Australia winner.
The 24-year-old stunner, who took out the coveted title in Friday’s ceremony, says education is far more important than good looks.
“I wasn’t raised to value beauty but to value education,” the Bosnian-Australian model says. “Growing up, my parents really instilled in us how important it was to go to school and do the best that we could.”
Radulovic clearly listened – she graduated with Honours in Psychology at the University of Western Sydney has plans to complete her masters.
The eldest child of refugees, Radulovic arrived in Australia when she was just four years old after her parents fled their war-torn hometown. Her architect father and lawyer mother landed in Hurstville, in southern Sydney, unable to speak a word of English.
Within a month of arriving, mum Zinka gave birth to a baby boy.
“My first memories of Australia are visiting my mum in hospital after she gave birth to my baby brother,” Radulovic explains. “I don’t really have any memories prior to that – I don’t remember any of the scary stuff that my parents dealt with back in Bosnia.”
The family have come a long way from their humble beginnings - the day Radulovic was crowned winner of Miss Universe Australia was also the same day her parents paid their final mortgage installment on their home. Financially-savvy Radulovic recently bought her own pad in Sydney’s Botany.
It’s understandable that charities like the Tomorrow Foundation, a charity that provides support s for recently resettled refugee and migrant children, are so important to Radulovic.
Radulovic says her main motivation in entering Miss Universe Australia was to bring attention to crucial social issues.
“I entered the pageant as a platform to highlight important social issues,” she says. “I am very involved with the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and also am passionate about fixing world hunger. Did you know if food could be distributed evenly, there would be enough for everyone to eat more than 2000 calories (8000kj) per day?”
Radulovic says the Miss Universe competition isn't all ball gowns and bikinis.
"It (the pageant) empowers women and gives them a chance to speak about the topics important to them," she says.
Beauty-wise, Radulovic’s motto is less is more.
She’s a fan of coconut oil for her hair, while her daily makeup routine consists of Face of Australia Mineral Therapy Illuminator, a rosy tinted lip balm and a good eyelash curler.
In her handbag she carries around pawpaw cream, Band-Aids and a hairbrush.
The self-confessed chocoholic eats as healthily as she can, but doesn’t deprive herself of sweet treats and exercises outdoors at least three times a week for both her physical and mental health.
The Pilates fan says “everything in moderation” is key.
Although she commends all of the previous Miss Universe Australia winners, she has no plans to be the next Jennifer Hawkins.
“I really admire all of the previous winners,” she says, “But I’m not aspiring to be the next Jennifer Hawkins. I’m planning on being the best Monika Radulovic that I can possibly be. I see myself as more of a messenger that gets to show the world that Australia is the best and luckiest nation in the world.”
With an attitude like that, we think Radulovic is well on her way to going far in the Miss Universe finals later in the year!