On July 13, 2008, in front of nearly one billion viewers worldwide, Dayana Mendoza's life changed forever when she was crowned Miss Universe 2008 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Through the Miss Universe Organization, the former Miss Venezuela has continued as an advocate for increasing HIV/AIDS awareness by focusing on women's health and reproductive issues. She has forged relationships with organizations committed to research and education, including the Latino Commission on AIDS, PSI/YouthAIDS and Gay Men's Health Crisis, Global Health Council and God's Love We Deliver.
As part of her mission to raising awareness and fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide, Mendoza traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to serve as a spokesperson for Population Services International's (PSI) "Not All Men Are Created Equal" campaign. During her four-day visit to Nicaragua, she visited hospitals and mobile units where people living with HIV/AIDS are receiving treatment to get a firsthand view of how the campaign is reaching target populations.
Mendoza was born in Caracas to very close-knit family, perhaps the result of sharing a two-room home with her mother, father, uncle, grandmother and younger sister. She was discovered at the age of 13 at a local bus stop. Since then, she has gained vast experience in catalog modeling and has worked with prestigious companies like Max Mara and Costume Nacional. Modeling has allowed Mendoza to travel the world, visiting places like New York, Italy, Germany, France, Athens and Spain.
Mendoza speaks three languages - Spanish, English and Italian. She currently resides in New York City and takes classes in interior design.