After becoming Miss Puerto Rico, excitement begun to build as it became known that the 2001 Miss Universe pageant would be held in Bayamon, Puerto Rico not far from the island's capital. Quiñones would compete with a home grown advantage. She courted local adoration from the opening ceremony of the 50th Miss Universe Pageant in May of 2001 when she arrived in a be-feathered bathing suit with wings representing a fighting cock. Cockfighting, though considered distasteful and even cruel in American culture, is a popular sport in Puerto Rico and many other Latin American countries. Over the week of the pageant, Quiñones was mobbed like a superstar much to the consternation of the other 76 contestants. Her dazzling smile was plastered across front pages and on television.
Following her win, Quiñones relocated to New York City and a luxury apartment at Trump Tower which would become her home for the duration of her yearlong reign. The apartment, as well as $250,000 in prizes is part of her winnings. She is also allotted a clothing allowance. In return, Quiñones is expected to travel around the world as a representative of the Miss Universe organization, providing promotional support for pageant sponsors and charities. She has already taken up the struggle against AIDS and made a very public appearance at the AIDS Walk in New York. "By educating people about HIV/AIDS, I look forward to teaching tolerance of people with differences and doing my part to remove the stigma of HIV/AIDS," Quiñones was quoted on the UNAIDS website. "In my travels around the world, I've heard people speaking about AIDS in every language under the sun. If each one of us speaks out, we will overcome this epidemic together," she continued.
As her reign wound down in the earlier part of 2002, Quiñones began to long for her country. "Every day I awake and think of Puerto Rico, especially my family. I want to be with my people and spend time with my father, mother, and brother," she confessed to Revista Vea, a Puerto Rican magazine. When she does return she has great ambitions to pursue. "I would like to be a part of the entertainment and communication industry, becoming an acclaimed singer known worldwide and establishing my own television program. I plan to complete a Master's degree in communications and to continue training in the areas mentioned above," she was quoted on http://www.missuniverse.com/.
During the Miss Universe pageant, Quiñones was asked what she thought the most important thing in life was. She quickly answered, "to be the best I can be." Whether that is fighting AIDS, pursuing a career in showbiz, or inspiring a nation of young Puerto Ricans to love their country and reach for their dreams, there is no doubt Quiñones's best, will make a difference in many lives.