Getting to Know: CFPCA communicator reigns supreme for community outreach

September 5, 2017

Da’Stanza Murphy wears many hats in life — and, occasionally, a sparkling crown.

Murphy, an information officer with the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts, was recently named Ms. Captivating 2018.

“I’m always a little hesitant to talk about my pageant work, because there’s a kind of stigma associated with it,” Murphy said. “People will dismiss it as just a beauty contest, but it’s so much more. Yes, I’m a pageant queen, but I’m also passionate about my community, education and career.”

Murphy was selected as Ms. Captivating — her first national title — by a panel of judges who strongly considered each of the 38 contestants’ personal interviews, outreach and volunteer activities and their performance in eveningwear, fashion and fitness wear categories. Murphy, who earned a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism and a master’s in organizational communication from Wayne State, has competed in pageants since she was 14 and has previously held titles as Ms. Pure Michigan and Ms. Michigan United States, among others.

“In many ways, pageantry has made me who I am today,” Murphy said. “I was very shy as a kid. I asked my parents if I could participate in pageants and it really took me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow.” 

As Ms. Captivating 2018, Murphy will serve as an ambassador for the pageant system through public appearances, volunteer work and her own outreach program, Mentoring a Younger Me. Murphy’s program partners with all levels of the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan to teach girls the power of positive self-esteem, inner beauty and teambuilding. Mentoring a Younger Me focuses specifically on girls in the sixth through eighth grades.

“It’s a wonderful thing to have that girl-power energy and show young women that they can work together and uplift one another,” Murphy said. “I think it’s so important for these girls to have someone in an authority role — whether it’s a parent, a teacher, a police officer, a doctor or someone with a crown — reinforce that positive outlook.”

Through the Mentoring a Younger Me program, Murphy hosts workshops where the girls create boards — for themselves and for each other — using empowering descriptive words. 

“Watching the girls describe each other as smart, strong, beautiful, funny and kind is an inspirational experience,” she said. “Seeing those positive interactions and talking through them together really helps reinforce the idea that what’s inside matters most.”

While Murphy conducts a lot of her business as Ms. Captivating in a beautiful crown and a glamorous dress, she’s quick to remind people that at the end of the day, it comes off.

“The crown is beautiful, and of course I love it,” Murphy said. “But nothing superficial should define how you feel about yourself. What’s most important is knowing that I’m working to empower and inspire others.”


Photo courtesy of Nick Marron