DutchCrafters, the largest online retailer of Amish furniture at www.dutchcrafters.com, is awarding the DutchCrafters Amish Furniture Heritage Scholarship for the 2022-23 academic school year to Mehdi Kayi of Allston, Mass.; Alejandro Saldana of Norwalk, Conn.; and Kara Steinburg of West Linn, Ore.
This year, the Sarasota-based multi-channel retailer received close to 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.
Kayi attends Boston College in hopes to become a physician, focusing on treating the vulnerable populations in his hometown. As a Moroccan American and young Muslim, Kayi attributes his strong values of humility, care, and respect to his grandmothers as they’d say, “we must not go to bed knowing our neighbors didn’t eat that day.” Kayi’s grandmother “was the healer in her community, helping people with everything from broken bones to delivering babies.” Kayi explains that with underrepresented populations, “I have always been impact-driven — a virtue instilled in me by my parents who always stressed the importance of giving back to the community — and that’s what I find most fulfilling.”
Saldana intends to study at Quinnipiac University as a psychology major. Saldana expresses his pride in his Peruvian heritage when describing his culture as, “very hard-working people, we persevere even in difficult situations.” He reflects on his role during Boy Scouts in being the only Hispanic boy in his troop. When it came to selling popcorn to raise money for the troop’s campouts, Saldana was the only kid that could speak Spanish. “I felt closer to the ones who couldn’t communicate in English, I’ve noticed that the Spanish speaking people had a smile on their faces like a sense of relief knowing that somebody was going to help them in their own language.” Saldana hopes to be a great asset to his future employer, a career in which he can treat Hispanic individuals with mental and emotional issues, supplying the comfort of speaking about and understanding their concerns.
Steinburg, whose great-grandfather is the sole survivor of the Holocaust out of 18 family members, plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at The University of Oregon majoring in psychology and double minoring in legal studies and Spanish. Steinburg’s study interests stem from learning a deeper understanding of her family’s history. “It was during the spring of my freshman year, while reading Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, that I found my eyes continuously skimming over the words ‘Nuremberg Trials.’ As I researched the trials of Nazi Party officials and high-ranking military officers, an interest in law was sparked.” Her perspective from her family’s history will supply a unique resource in serving her future employers and community. “While my great-grandfather’s voice was never heard in a court of law, his story has inspired me to study our legal system so that one day I can assure justice he never received.”
“We’re honored to invest in young people as they draw from their histories and cultures to build their futures,” said Jim Miller, founder and CEO of DutchCrafters and its parent company JMX Brands. He has differentiated his business by looking within his Amish and Mennonite heritage, offering high level customer service and heirloom quality Amish furniture.
Kayi, Saldana, and Steinburg will each be awarded $500 to help with college expenses.
Established in 2011, the DutchCrafters Heritage Scholarship is awarded to deserving, accomplished students attending colleges across the country, studying in an impressive array of disciplines. The scholarship continues to underline DutchCrafters’ belief that cultural heritage can positively shape vocational experiences, offer creative value to employers, and stress the importance of community service.
About JMX Brands
JMX Brands is a niche internet retailer, selling more than 15,000 products on a variety of websites, including its flagship Amish furniture site www.dutchcrafters.com. JMX Brands was a 2016 Florida Company to Watch and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Retail Business of the Year and 2021 Medium Business of the Year. It has been named one of the 2021 Best Places to Work for Sarasota-Manatee and by Furniture Today magazine. It was named to Newsweek’s prestigious Best Online Shops for 2021 and 2022. The company has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and was listed six times as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States, according to Inc. Magazine’s prestigious Inc. 5,000 List.