AXA Announces Scholarship Winners

Scholarships Awarded to Students Passionate about Community Outreach, Health Innovations, Financial Literacy and Environmental Protection

April 17, 2018 — NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AXA, a leading financial protection company, announced today 369 winners of the AXA AchievementSM Scholarship.

The winners, known as AXA Achievers, are a group of ambitious and talented students who have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and a commitment to making a positive contribution to the world. Through their outstanding achievements, these students are driving awareness and innovation in such areas as general community outreach, health innovations, financial literacy and environmental protection.

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the AXA AchievementSM program, which has provided more than $28 million in scholarships to 6,500 students since the program’s inception in 2003. Through the AXA AchievementSM Scholarship, 369 students representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the local communities where AXA operates will receive a one-time scholarship in the amount of $25,000, $10,000 or $2,500. Additionally, every scholarship recipient’s high school will receive a grant for $1,000 to be used for educational development. The 2018 award program will give out more than $1.5 million to support college education and professional development.

“Each year, I am amazed by the accomplishments of our class of AXA Achievers and other students across the country. Their contributions are making a real impact to their communities and beyond,” said Mark Pearson, CEO of AXA US. “I am proud we are able to recognize this success and support their pursuit of education.”

The 2018 National recipients who will each receive a $25,000 scholarship are:

Community Outreach

Sophie Bernstein – Clayton High School, St. Louis, MO – Recognizing the amount of families struggling with food insecurity and obesity in St. Louis, Sophie built and manages 33 organic sustainable vegetable gardens at low income daycares across the city. She also offers workshops on STEM and nutrition to children at the sites. She has donated 35,000 pounds of produce to food banks and recruited 752 at-risk teen volunteers to help plant gardens.

Talia Harvey – Methuen High School, Methuen, MA – In 2007, Talia co-created Debbie’s Treasure Chest, a nonprofit collecting and distributing clothing, toys, cosmetics and books for families in her community. Talia has impacted more than 3,000 families and launched two satellite programs in grammar schools run by middle school students she has trained to distribute school supplies. In 2016, she received a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation to continue the great work of Debbie’s Treasure Chest.

Health Innovations

Tabitha Bell – The Waterford School, Sandy, UT – Inspired by her own life-changing experience using a service dog to assist her in walking, Tabitha founded the nonprofit “Pawsitive Pawsibilities” to purchase and train service dogs for disabled individuals who cannot afford them. She has raised more than $80,000 to purchase and train eight dogs that have been placed with both children and adults afflicted with walking disabilities, veterans with PTSD or individuals with health conditions such as epilepsy.

Syamantak Payra – Clear Brook High School, Friendswood, TX – Inspired by an adult mentor suffering from effects of polio, Syamantak created a leg brace with an electromechanical retrofit that detects and adapts to patients’ walking by using an actuator to bend the knee. Not only does his invention cost considerably less than traditional braces, it is a device that can increase mobility, safety and quality of life for many patients.

Grayson Phillips – Essential Church School, Gardendale, AL – As a young boy, Grayson loved the outdoors and participating in Boy Scout activities, but found it challenging to manually move his wheelchair on difficult terrain. Grayson created the Outdoor Ability Foundation, which provides adaptive equipment for disabled children and young adults to help them safely enjoy the outdoors in wheelchairs that can effectively maneuver through rough land. He has provided seven all-terrain power wheelchairs in four states valued at more than $84,000.

Lillian Pravda – Ramaz School, New York, NY – Lillian is founder & CEO of Vision For and From Children, a nonprofit that launched a nationwide mobile clinic program providing eye surgeries and free eye exams and eyeglasses to children in underserved communities. More than 3 million lives have been impacted in both the U.S. and around the world. Lillian is humbled that more than 27,000 children have received the gift of sight through the dedicated efforts of her organization.
Brandon Staple – Longmont High School, Longmont, CO – After studying and understanding the key factors that lead to a high prostate cancer rate among African-American men, Brandon developed a Deep Machine Learning (DML) algorithm that increases the accuracy of identifying Rare Cancer Biomarkers that correlate with prostate cancer by 30 percent over conventional models, renewing hope for a cure. Through his research, Brandon would like to meet preventive health care needs of traditionally vulnerable populations.

Each year, I am amazed by the accomplishments of our class of AXA Achievers and other students across the country

Teagan Stedman – Westminster School, Farmington, CT – Teagan is the Founder and CEO of Shred Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit allowing children to show their peers battling cancer they are not alone in their fights. Using the power of music, thousands have participated in more than 25 Shred Kids’ Cancer events, raising $475,000 to fund nine clinical trials for pediatric cancer research. In a research internship, Teagan identified a way to deliver drugs into the body to treat cancer without harming healthy cells and is currently developing this procedure with a mentor at The University of Connecticut Institute of Regenerative Engineering.

Financial Literacy

Dan Ta – Oxford Academy, Cypress, CA – Dan founded the Penny Wise Club to teach financial literacy techniques and key concepts to students in his community. More than 1,000 students have benefitted from these educational workshops, and many participated in two stock trading competitions. His efforts have been recognized by California State Treasurer John Chiang, who participated in Dan’s school events and supports educating youth on this important skill.
Environmental Education

Megan He – Huron High School, Ann Arbor, MI – Megan created the YouTube channel Greenversal, where she films and edits weekly environmental news reports to raise awareness about environmental issues taking place in her local community and abroad. More than 200,000 viewers from over 100 countries have watched her reports. Megan’s channel has made an impact for youth and adults and her commitment to teaching others earned her the 2017 Environmental Protection Agency U.S. President’s Environmental Youth Award.



ABOUT AXA Foundation
The AXA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AXA Advisors, LLC, the retail distribution subsidiary of AXA. The Foundation directs the company’s philanthropic and volunteer activities, working to improve the quality of life in communities across the United States where AXA has a presence. The Foundation’s multifaceted signature program, AXA AchievementSM, supports the company’s strong commitment to Corporate Responsibility and AXA Group’s flagship theme of “Risk Research and Education,” by providing America’s youth with access and advice to help them succeed in college and beyond. Since its inception, AXA Achievement has awarded over $28 million in college scholarships to more than 6,500 students, known as AXA Achievers. For more information go to or AXA’s Facebook page.
As leading providers of retirement, insurance and investment strategies, the companies under the AXA U.S. brand name help empower their customers to live better lives. Established in 1859, AXA Equitable now has approximately 2.8 million customers nationwide. More than 4,700 AXA Advisors Financial Professionals create strategies to help individuals, families and small business owners move forward with confidence on their road to financial security. AXA U.S. is a brand name of AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC and its family of companies, including AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (AXA Equitable), MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA) (AZ stock company, administrative office: Jersey City, NJ), AXA Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) and AXA Distributors, LLC. AXA U.S. is part of the global AXA Group, a worldwide leader in financial protection strategies and wealth management, with 107 million clients in 64 countries. The obligations of AXA Equitable and MLOA are backed solely by their claims-paying ability. Find AXA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, visit