The Miss Ukrainian Diaspora 2014 beauty pageant finale was held in Chicago, IL. This year’s title winner, Ulyana Fenyn, originally hails from the town of Kolomiya, in Ivano-Frankivsk Province in Western Ukraine.
Ms. Fenyn studies sociology and psychology at DePaul University and works at the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
"I love helping people and my dream is to become a lawyer. I spend my free time keeping active - playing tennis, exercising, dancing, and learning Italian. In my heart, I always stay true to my Ukrainian roots and believe that there will be peace and tranquility in my native land,” said the winner, on the eve of the contest.
Among the 11 member panel of judges who chose the winner were U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, NBC Chicago’s Natalie Martinez, Miss Illinois USA 2015 Renee Wronecki, designer Oksana Karavanska, and prominent representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk addressed the Miss Ukrainian Diaspora 2014 audience. "The Miss Ukrainian Diaspora event brings thousands of members from the Ukrainian American community together in celebration of Ukrainian heritage and culture. We are proud to have a vibrant and dynamic Ukrainian community in Illinois that makes positive contributions on a daily basis," said Senator Kirk.
The organizers of the event were also honored to receive a letter from Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. "Chicago is a proud home of a vibrant Ukrainian American community and this event is an opportunity to celebrate the many ways in which the Ukrainian community has left its mark on our great city.
I am grateful for the continued contributions Ukrainian people make to help our city grow and prosper and for the many cultural exchanges, like Miss Ukrainian Diaspora, that have developed from our close relationship," said the Mayor in his letter of support.
As for the other finalists, Miss People’s Choice and the crown for 1st Runner-up went to Marina Semenova, originally from Dnipropetrovsk.
Alexandra Golovkova from Kyiv won Miss Photo, and the title of Miss Ukrainian Chicago was awarded to Julia Sitovska from Ternopil.
All the finalists appeared on stage wearing evening gowns from a special collection by Ukrainian fashion designer, Oksana Karavanska.
The evening’s main musical guest was Ukraine’s Queen of Pop, Iryna Bilyk, who sang her biggest Ukrainian language hits. Also, comedian Michael Schur, acted as host.
The contestants hailed from all over Ukraine, form places like Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Odessa, as well as cities form Western Ukraine. There was also a contestant who came to the U.S. from Sevastopol, Crimea.
This year’s competition also had a charitable aim, as part of the proceeds from the event went to support Ukrainian hospitals. The grand prize winner received a certificate for purchasing body armor for Ukrainian soldiers.
In addition, the event raised $3,000, by auctioning off a decorated helmet worn by a protester on the Maidan during the recent Ukrainian pro-democracy demonstrations, to send to a military hospital in Ukraine.
The auction was won by Igor Pasternak, Founder and CEO of Worldwide Aeros Corp, who generously donated the helmet the the Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago, where it will be displayed as part of the permanent collection.
Miss Ukrainian Diaspora is the only Ukrainian event outside of Ukraine which features Ukraine’s top stars, along with a beauty pageant whose contestants are of Ukrainian descent, residing outside of Ukraine.
The show is widely featured in the media accessible to a large Ukrainian audience worldwide.