Annie Murry of San Lorenzo, Paraguay, Emily Ellis of Durham, N.C., and Andrea Garcia-Estrada of Goshen, Ind. have been selected as the recipients of the DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year.
The Sarasota-based ecommerce retailer of the largest selection of Amish furniture online received nearly 100 applications for its annual Heritage Scholarship. The three-part application includes an essay asking applicants to explain how they will draw upon their cultural heritage to shape their vocational aspirations, offer creative value to their employer, and serve their respective communities.
Murry’s grew up in a country with two national languages closely associated to socioeconomic class. This made her aware of how companies only market to one socioeconomic class instead of catering to both languages.
“As I grew up, I noticed that a vast majority of our national products and services are designed for people who only speak Spanish,” says Murry. “In cold economic terms, this makes sense, because city dwellers and the upwardly mobile speak more Spanish. However, it disregards a significant part of our population.”
Currently enrolled at Northeastern University, Murry is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in design to help bridge the gap of misrepresentation in design.
“It is easy to advocate for user diversity but hard to actually carry out the concept, that is why people of all kinds of backgrounds and cultural identities need to be present in a design room in order to create a truly inclusive product or experience,” says Murry.
Ellis comes from a long line of farmers marked by tradition and preservation. With a land grant dating back before the American Revolution and eight generations of farmers residing in the Delaware portion of the Eastern Shore, Ellis draws inspiration from her ancestor’s deep agricultural roots. Her father was the first generation to move away from this region, but she plans on returning to Delaware after receiving her bachelor’s degree in extension education from North Carolina State University.
“As I have grown older, I have turned my eye back towards our family’s homeland that has not been parceled off to developers,” says Ellis. “I aspire to become involved in agriculture and use our land for farming, rather than see it turned into another strip mall.”
Combining her passions for teaching and agriculture, Ellis dreams of turning her family farm into an educational center for people of all ages to visit and even stay on the property. She plans to do this through her education at NCSU.
“It would be wonderful to instill a love of agriculture–and the outdoors in general–in others or fan a spark of interest into a flame of intrigue,” says Ellis. “[NCSU] will provide me with valuable training, relationships with others in the industry, and access to networks of agricultural career fields that I may dive into upon graduation.”
Garcia-Estrada draws upon her identity as a Hispanic woman to help support and relate to children in her community. She plans to study psychology at Indiana University Bloomington.
“My goal is to work in developmental psychology with children, learning more and more about the developing brain and how society can enhance a child’s developmental experience,” says Garcia-Estrada. “Through my cultural heritage, I can form a connection as peer mentor in a local elementary school as we share Latino identities, creating a common bond for us to begin with.”
Bilingualism is a defining characteristic from Garcia-Estrada’s heritage that serves as a catalyst for serving her community.
“With [bilingualism], I hope to continue to bring ease to others through my service in my career aspirations as a psychologist as well as continuing the help I offer now,” says Garcia-Estrada. “By bringing many diverse perspectives to the table, we can gain broader insight into who we as a people are.”
Murry, Ellis, and Garcia-Estrada will all be awarded $500 to help with college expenses.
Established in 2012, the Heritage Scholarship is awarded each year to students enrolled in undergraduate colleges in the U.S. Recipients are selected based on their essay response and financial need. In its ninth year, $14,000 has been awarded to 27 students.