Abraham Axler ’08, a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia, has been awarded the prestigious Marshall Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Marshall Scholarships finance American students studying in the United Kingdom, covering university fees, cost-of-living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grants, research and daily travel grants as well as fares to and from the United States. Abraham will be using this opportunity to attain his Master of Science degree in social policy and an M.S.C. in political communication from the London School of Economics, and will be focusing his studies on social and housing policy.
Abraham started at Gaynor in the school’s final year at the brownstone on West 74th Street. As he grew academically, he witnessed the school expanding to help more students like him. He believes that it was his time at Stephen Gaynor School that truly helped him to become the scholar he is today. When he started at Gaynor, he struggled greatly with writing and reading. Thanks to incredible teachers like Ms. Logue, Abraham was pushed to develop his own learning strategies, or as he puts it, “Learning how to learn.” He remembers playing games of Scrabble with Mr. O’Hare and learning the “message” method of circling words you don’t know, a process he still uses today when reading for school.
Abraham’s interest in social policy began during his time at Gaynor. He saw how broken the system is for children with learning differences. He felt fortunate to have parents who saw that he needed more than what was being provided in mainstream schools, but also saw how difficult it was for them to gain access to the assistance he required.
After Gaynor, Abraham began 8th grade at Brooklyn Friends. He furthered his interest in policy by joining Model UN and student government. He also says that the Friends education gave him the framework of Quakerism – “recognizing the humanity of each person” – and the belief that the policies and procedures of our country should serve this belief.
Abraham was awarded the Jefferson Scholarship at the University of Virginia, which provided him with a full scholarship and the opportunity to continue learning about government systems. At UVA, Abraham was the president of the Student Council, Class of 2017 president, an Echols Scholar and William H.P. Young Jefferson Scholar, a Meriwether Lewis Fellow, and a recipient of a Harrison Undergraduate Research award and a Jefferson Trust Grant. Abraham’s research at UVA focused mainly on the media strategy for transgender politicians.
This past summer, Abraham worked in New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Office for People with Disabilities under Commissioner Victor Calise, writing memos about how to increase access throughout the city. After his studies at LSE through the Marshall Scholarship, Abraham hopes to return home to New York to continue working behind the scenes on government initiatives that affects all individuals.
Abraham says that “Gaynor gave me an earnest sense of confidence,” which will carry with him through his ongoing journey in scholarship and success.