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AXA Achievementsm announces scholarship winners

Scholarships awarded to students passionate about improving education, community outreach, disease prevention, and environmental research

Media Contacts:

Jennifer Recine
(212) 314-2009
Colleen McGroarty
(212) 314-2485

April 13, 2016

NEW YORK – AXA, a financial protection and retirement industry leader, announced today the 52 recipients of the 2016 AXA Achievementsm Scholarship.  Winners — known as AXA Achievers — are ambitious and talented students that 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 education, community outreach, health, disease prevention, and environmental research.

Every year, AXA awards 52 high school seniors — one from each state, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — college scholarships of $10,000. Of those 52 winners, 10 students are recognized as national winners and receive an additional scholarship award of $15,000. AXA has given more than $25 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 students since the program’s inception in 2003.

“We are honored to recognize these students and celebrate the contributions they have made through their extraordinary achievements,” said Mark Pearson, director, president and CEO of AXA Financial.  “This year’s AXA Achievers are remarkable young people whose drive and initiative to solve problems inspires them to innovate and create positive change, and we are proud to help make college a reality for the next generation of leaders.”

The 2016 national scholarship winners are:

Education Programs

  • Scott Forsythe, Huntington, IN
    Scott founded the Dyslexic Kids Support Organization, a global nonprofit that boasts over 10,000 members in 74 countries, to help children and teens with dyslexia.  The organization offers an annual conference with a focus on children and teens, free tutoring, support groups, and other resources.
  • Rachel Hunter, East Troy, WI
    Rachel founded FIRST Ladies, an organization for young women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) that offers a setting for girls to share their stories, support, and network with female professionals and other young women who share their interest in STEM.  Today, there are over 800 members in 20 different countries.

Community Outreach

  • Nicholas Lowinger, Cranston, RI
    In 2010, Nicholas started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation, a nonprofit that donates brand-new footwear to children in homeless shelters nationwide.  By securing donations from his community and corporate footwear manufacturers, Nicholas distributed shoes to over 44,000 homeless youths in 106 shelters in 43 states and has mobilized over 100 youth leaders across the U.S. who have established Gotta Have Sole clubs in their own communities.  
  • Grant Mercer, Marietta, GA
    In 2014, Grant started Building Buddies, a group that uses Legos to reach out to children living in homeless shelters.  Every week, Grant brings Legos to shelters where he meets with 4-15 children and builds with them while discussing how math, history, and science relate to their Lego projects.  Grant also collects Legos, repackages them in shoeboxes and gives them to the children so they can have their own Legos to create with. 
  • Rashaud Red, Baton Rouge, LA
    Rashaud was the youngest speaker to participate in TEDxLSU 2015, the premiere TEDx event in the greater Baton Rouge area.  TEDx events are centered on ideas and inspiring talks intended to spark deep discussion among participants.  Rashaud’s TEDxLSU talk centered around his greatest achievement – the development and implementation of the I Am MORE initiative, which brings young people and police together for dialogue and joint collaboration on community projects.  His initiative is being filmed as a documentary and is slated to reach 60 schools in Louisiana.
  • Reagan Roy, Louisville, KY
    Over a two year period, Reagan established community vegetable gardens to change the way people eat and to fight the rise in obesity, especially among African American children and adults.  He worked in low-income communities where families could not afford to buy fresh vegetables.  Within two years, Reagan had five community gardens open to the public with the help of a host of volunteers.

Health Innovations and Disease Prevention

  • Sophia Lee, Wexford, PA
    Sophia conducted bioinformatics research on mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.  She discovered cancer genes that can be used for targeted drug treatment.  Sophia is the lead author on a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Pathology Informatics, which identifies a possible mutation that may be present in mesothelioma cancer cells and could be used for early detection and treatment. 
  • Tejal Patwardhan, Chapel Hill, NC
    Inspired by family relations to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tejal came up with the idea of a technological communication aid for those on the Autism Spectrum, initiating a team to develop the device. Based on an algorithm she helped create, the device assists users in detecting emotional cues during speech to decrease conversational misunderstanding. The device is now supported by the president of the Autism Science Foundation.
  • Kenneth Shinozuka, New York, NY
    Kenneth invented SafeWander, a low-cost wearable sensor that sends an alert to a caregiver’s mobile device when a loved one or a patient gets up from a bed or chair. Kenneth also founded a start-up to provide SafeWander to those in need.  In 2014, Kenneth presented a TED Talk about his invention and how it helped keep his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, safe.  In addition, Kenneth is part of the Cadillac Dare Greatly campaign, which celebrates “distinguished design and innovations that…inspire [the world] as we shape our future.”

Environmental Research

  • Martin Blair, Phoenix, AZ
    Martin started the Sustainable Transportation Initiative to reduce the carbon emissions of the Bioscience High School community.  He designed and built a hybrid electric vehicle, launched community-based challenges and constructed electric bikes that were made available to the community.  Through Martin’s initiative, the school saw a significant decrease in the carbon emission.

Through AXA Achievement, which encompasses the AXA Achievementsm Scholarship (52 scholarships including the 10 national winners) and the AXA Achievementsm Community Scholarship (up to 375 scholarships), AXA awards more than $1.4 million every year, making AXA one of the nation’s largest corporate providers of scholarships. AXA also offers financial education services to provide comprehensive resources for students and parents planning for college  

For more information on AXA Achievement, including a full list of our winners, visit the AXA Foundation page.  Find AXA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About AXA Foundation

The AXA 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 AXA 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 $25 million in college scholarships to more than 6,000 students, known as AXA Achievers.

For more information go to or AXA's Facebook page.

About AXA

“AXA” is a brand name of AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC and its family of companies, including AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY,NY), MONY Life Insurance Company of America (AZ stock company, administrative office: Jersey City, NJ), AXA Advisors, LLC, and AXA Distributors, LLC. In business since 1859, AXA is a leading financial protection company and one of the nation’s premier providers of life insuranceannuity, employee benefits and financial products and services distributed to individuals and business owners through its retail distribution channel, AXA Advisors, LLC (member FINRA, SIPC) and to the financial services market through its wholesale distribution channel, AXA Distributors, LLC.

AXA S.A. is a Paris-headquartered holding company for a group of international insurance and financial services companies, including AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC companies. AXA S.A. is a worldwide leader in financial protection strategies and wealth management with 102 million clients in 56 countries as of December 31, 2013.

The obligations of AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and MONY Life Insurance Company of America are backed solely by their claims-paying ability.

GE-113345 (04/2016)

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