One of the first Mensa Honor Society inductees, Will L. from North Texas’ Mensa 76, was in first grade when he created a nonprofit organization called
Friends of Reaching Our Goals. FROGs — like Will’s local Texas Christian University Horned Frogs — provided nutritious meals to Fort Worth area youth in need. Over a decade, it fed more than 900,000 hungry kids.
That’s one of the countless figures attesting to the merits of the now-10-year-old Mensa Honor Society and its precocious young inductees. The
Mensa Honor Society (for grades 10 through 12) and its companion Junior Mensa Honor Society (grades five through nine) recognize the achievements and community assistance of Young Mensans.
The Mensa Honor Society and Junior Mensa Honor Society recognize young members who exemplify the ideals of integrity, intellectual curiosity, academic commitment, and service.
The Mensa Honor Society launched in 2013, the brainchild of then-
Gifted Youth Specialist Lisa Van Gemert, to recognize Young Mensans ages 10 to 18 who use their intelligence to benefit humanity and encourage other YM’s to do the same. That March, a sixth grader from Southeast Michigan Mensa became the program’s inaugural member. Within a year, 48 students had joined. The program has undergone a few tweaks since then — a handful of administrators, new award-level designations, certificate redesigns, some creative re-imagining of the application and renewal process during a pandemic.... Its core vision, however, has remained the same: upholding the ideals of integrity, intellectual curiosity, academic commitment, and service.
In 10 years, we’ve inducted nearly 500 Young Mensans into the Mensa Honor Society. Each inductee is tasked with demonstrating their commitment to service, leadership, and academics. We ask a lot of them: a near-perfect GPA, a minimum of 25 hours’ annual volunteer service, active participation in their school or community beyond the classroom, a letter of recommendation from a trusted adult who can vouch for the applicant’s character, and, my favorite piece, a handwritten statement of purpose. There, in scrawl or script, they tell their stories. They write of their histories with Mensa, their goals for the future, and the lived experiences that have led them to where they are. These tweens and teens have bucked the stereotype of carefree and apathetic youth; they absolutely care, and they’ll make you care too. It’s impossible to feel unmoved reading the words of children who not only want to change the world but know that they’re capable of doing so as well. Some Mensa Honor Society youth, gifted with curiosity, empathy, and wisdom beyond their years, are already doing it.
Makenna L. from Lehigh Pocono Mensa was 16 when she ran a charity dedicated to helping children and animals in Central America called
Little Known Help Zone. To fund the charity, Makenna made and sold items in an Etsy shop. Another member, Sierra N. of Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho/Montana Mensa, created Snotty Is Naughty, a program and workshop aimed at stamping out mean girls by educating kids on the negative effects of girl-on-girl bullying.
What these kids have learned, perhaps precociously, is that you’re as good as the company you keep, and by joining the Honor Society, they expect their company will propel them to great heights.
Some of our current members have designed their own reading programs to improve literacy among elementary school students who have fallen behind due to school closures and virtual learning. A recent inductee, Brett M. of Northern New Jersey Mensa, has organized an annual challenge to raise funds to support a rare disease called
fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). Brett was inspired to create the Wet Brett Swim Challenge in honor of his 11-year-old cousin, who has FOP. In its inaugural event, the challenge raised more than $20,000. Mensa Honor Society members have given up weekends, holidays, and summer vacations in favor of organizing food drives, cleaning their parks, tutoring their classmates, handmaking hats and blankets for premature babies, and more. The impact of their service is hard to quantify, but in 10 years the members of the Mensa Honor Society and Junior Mensa Honor Society have accrued more than 69,000 volunteer service hours.
It’s a humbling thing to witness. On days that I review Honor Society applications, I pocket any complaints about the business of my life. Applicants juggle their volunteer service with rigorous scholarship. It is not enough for Mensa Honor Society inductees to be smart; they must excel academically. Some attend specialized gifted academies or boarding schools. They balance college-level coursework with extracurriculars, student leadership, and community involvement. They are athletes, theater kids, band geeks, Eagle Scouts, student council representatives, camp counselors, and robotics league champions, brought together by a promise to use their intelligence and talents for good. As a spectator along their paths to greatness, I can’t help but swell with pride when I take in the enormity of their accomplishments.
We can’t take credit for that greatness, of course. Our members would do remarkable things whether the Mensa Honor Society existed or not. But what these kids have learned, perhaps precociously, is that you’re as good as the company you keep, and by joining the Honor Society, they expect their company will propel them to great heights. In these 10 years, the Honor Society has offered its members a place of belonging: camaraderie with peers who are also committed to being well-rounded future leaders, kinship within the embrace of Mensa, and responsibility to show the world what it means to be part of this 1 percent of the top 2 percent.
As I look toward the next 10 years for the Mensa Honor Society, I hope that we can build upon this robust foundation to increase our membership, share our members’ stories, and begin effecting change in the world, not just as an amalgamation of exceptional individuals but as a truly exceptional group. I hope to find new ways to recognize our MHS members’ achievements and take every opportunity I can to brag about them and to be a mouthpiece for their causes and successes. I hope to measure the future in community, in leadership, in goal-setting, and in achievement, starting with a collective goal of earning 10,000 hours of volunteer service in 2023. Let’s get to work.
For more information on the Mensa Honor Society, including how to join, email