On June 3, somewhere inside Las Vegas’s glittery Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, Karina Brez will be standing — in very high heels — at one end of a very large stage. On the other end is a beautiful crown and a sash proclaiming the title “Miss USA.” That crown, that title and a trip to represent the entire nation in the Miss Universe pageant will, she hopes, be at the end of the journey for Brez, the 24-year-old Ukrainian immigrant turned Wellington gemologist and Miss Florida 2012. But if that shiny headwear and title aren’t in the cards for Brez, it’s certain that at least one thing is.
Brez works out with trainer Steve Caropelo in the fitness center at Versailles in Wellington. It's been a long road for Brez, whose family left Ukraine, moved to America and settled in Palm Beach County when she was in grade school, and where her parents still run a jewelry business in Boca RatonCoach Ashley Lauren Kerr, Caropelo and coach Grace Fontecha evaluate Brez as she practices her walk. Fontecha is a veteran pageant coach from Puerto Rico whose past clients have included four Miss Venezuelas, four Miss Puerto Ricos and back-to-back Miss Universes Dayana Mendoza and Stefania Fernandez.