Collecting crowns - Shayleena Wijerathna wins Teen Universal Petite

Jul 22 2023.

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Creating history yet again Sri Lankan American Shayleena Wijerathna has won the title of Teen Universal Petite. The Universal Petite crowned this year’s International Titleholders (2023) at Paradise Carnival Cruise from Tampa, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico, in the second week of July 2023  Shayleena represented the USA after winning the title of Teen Petite USA in Wisconsin in August 2022.

Over 20 contestants, from all over the world were at Carnival Paradise cruise to compete for the international titles of “Miss Universal Petite”, “Teen Universal Petite”, Ms. Universal Petite” and inaugural “Mrs. Universal Petite”.  The international queens were crowned in front of a live audience and even more streaming from home.

Areas of competition include judge’s interview, swimsuit, evening gown, national costume,
community service, photogenic, congeniality and on-stage question. The Universal Petite winner is described as a poised, graceful and elegant lady that understands that her height is no limitation to fulfilling her dreams and being a role model to everyone!

As Teen Universal Petite,  Shayleena says her goal,  is not only to empower young girls and find their voice, but to help them embrace their beauty. She adds “I intend to continue to promote my  platform during my reign and spread the word on autism awareness across countries”. As a role model to younger kids, Shayleena loves to connect with her community through volunteering at local schools and daycare. She intends to continue to volunteer and network with medical professionals from around the world and invites professionals in the industry to collaborate with her on her YouTube channel – Heart to Heart
Talks to promote autism awareness. She believes kids and adults with or without autism should be treated with kindness.

Shayleena’s YouTube channel has fun-engaging activities, inspired by Speech, ABA and Occupational Therapists that can be easily used by parents, family members, caregivers of kids with and without autism. With the goal of spreading autism awareness, it features Q & A sessions with medical professionals from the USA and Australia.

During Shayleena’s reign as Teen Petite USA, she authored a children’s book named after her platform “Difference is beautiful”. Based on a true story, it gives the child's perspective of life, living with Autism. The book was written with the goal of spreading Autism Awareness. Her children’s book narrates a story about a 6 year old named Bella, who shares her experiences as she goes on an adventure to parents and classmates with the hope of giving students, siblings, teachers and other adults a better understanding of what goes through a child's mind living with autism and shares reasons for some of her behaviours.

She also established a Q & A session called Heart to Heart talks on her YouTube channel and volunteered with state and national organizations with the goal of promoting autism awareness.

Shayleena also represented Petite USA by making appearances at national talent showcase organized by the International Modelling and Talent Association (IMTA), Miss USA 2022 pageant, walked for several designers including Marc Defang, Sonal Couture, Archie Brown, CEO and Ostrawska at New York Fashion Week in Feb 2023. Shayleena was also invited to the annual awards ceremony organized by the Sri Lankan Foundation International in Nov 2022. She has had the opportunity to be photographed by many prominent photographers like Georgina Vaughn, Luis  Omar Garcia to name a few. Collaborated with fashion designers like Portia and Scarlett, Patrick Isorena, Louis Pangilinan, Rachel Allan, Vizcaya Swimwear and received sponsorship from many companies including Pola smile and Prevue Bridal.

Shayleens says she is very excited for another year with the Petite system, forging friendships and is appreciative of its founder Hazely Lopez for creating a system as Universal Petite and for the endless opportunities during her reign has Teen Universal Petite 2023.


Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]


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