Caitlyn Stupi was crowned Miss Maryland on June 22. Since then life has been a whirlwind of engagements, but despite the demands, she says the experience has been “a dream come true.”
“It’s something that you work for and dream about for so long, and once you finally have it, it’s just absolutely incredible," Stupi said. "And to be able to serve the state that has shaped me into who I am today is so special.”
Stupi, of Westminster, is one of several in the Miss Maryland sisterhood to come from Carroll County in recent years. She said she has had the chance to meet many of them and they have bonded over shared experiences growing up in the same hometown.
Stupi got started competing after seeing an article about a local winner in the Times during her junior year of high school.
To her, competing in the pageant seemed like the culmination of everything she is passionate about — combining talent, community service and advocating for young women’s education through scholarships. But the interest took a backseat until 2018 when she began to compete in the Miss Maryland organization.
In the past two years, she has earned more than $20,000 in scholarships through competing even though she started later than many.
She earned her undergraduate degree in May 2019 after studying graphic design and studio art in the honors program at Liberty University.
The scholarships that go along with the Miss Maryland crown will help fund her master’s education at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Her Illustration and design savvy came into play in developing her social impact initiative as Miss Maryland. Her platform is called “Common Cents: Promoting Youth Financial Literacy.”
She wrote, illustrated and published a children’s book titled “Pete and Penny Penguin Learn Common Cents.” The cute premise of the book helps make concepts of financial responsibility digestible for young students.
With it, she travels around the state reading and speaking to groups of early elementary school students.
For most, financial education doesn’t start until they are in high school.
“Being able to go in at an early age and just introduce these concepts is something I’m very passionate about,” she said.
The blurb for the book reads, “Trouble strikes when Granny and Papa send Pete and Penny to the market for milk and bread, but they return with treats and toys! Pete and Penny must learn ways to earn money while discovering the difference between wants and needs.”
More information about the book and Stupi’s other design work is available at caitlynstupi.com
“It's really my vision that every child will learn the basics of financial literacy, to really just give them the empowerment and security that they need for a brighter future, regardless of their socioeconomic background,” she said.
As she pursues a career in graphics and illustration, she is passionate about telling stories visually and championing those stories, she said.
Miss Maryland also raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, alongside her compatriots across the country as Miss America’s national platform.
Looking ahead, there is the Miss America competition, which will be held Thursday, Dec. 19 in Uncasville, Connecticut.
‘“We have a date on our calendar, so we’re going to be working full steam ahead preparing,” she said. This involves long hours of rehearsals and even more community appearances.
For the Miss Maryland competition, Stupi performed “The Swan” on cello, an instrument she has been practicing since the fourth grade and continued through college. She’s excited to continue to share her talent on the national stage.
Being a part of the pageant world is something she would recommend, especially after watching girls participate in the Miss America Organization’s programs for younger women. In competing, girls gain confidence and develop a stronger sense of self, she said.
As someone who didn’t start until college, she said with a laugh, ”I just wish I had learned about it sooner."