FoundationEach year the American Mensa Education and Research Foundation awards scholarships of up to $2,000 to individuals pursuing higher education. Both Mensa members and nonmembers may enter the scholarship competition.

Orange County Mensa actively participates in this program by judging local entries. We also do fund-raising throughout the year to benefit our Educational Fund for the Orange County Mensa Scholarship, which is administered through the Mensa Foundation.

2015 – 2016 Scholarship Winners

The Mensa Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2015 – 2016 Scholarships. Nationwide, more than 11,000 students competed for 190 scholarships totaling more than $91,000.

Orange County Mensa is proud to announce that three students from Orange County were among the recipients.

Congratulations to:

Winner Residence Award Scholarship
Karen Pham   Orange, CA $1,000 Orange County Mensa Scholarship
Tejal Gala        Santa Ana, CA $1,000 Mensa Member Lessa Scherrer Scholarship
Nedda Bozorgmehri Foothill Ranch, CA $300 Local Group Karen Cooper Scholarship

Click on the names  to see each recipient’s winning essay.


diplomaHow to Apply for a Scholarship

The Foundation’s college scholarship program bases its awards totally on essays written by the applicants. Consideration is not given to grades, academic program or financial need.

Be sure to read all requirements, rules, and guidelines on the Mensa Education and Research Foundation website before submitting your application.

Essays must be uploaded between September 15 and  January 15.

Applicants:  submit essays online here between September 15 and January 15.

ELIGIBILITY for Mensa scholarships

  • Applicant must be enrolled in a degree program in an accredited American institute of post-secondary education.
  • While some of the scholarships are for specific areas of study, most are for students in any major.
  • Applicant need not be a member of Mensa nor qualified for Mensa.
  • However, there are additional awards for Mensa members and/or their dependents.
  • All general awards are unrestricted as to age, race, gender, level of post-secondary education or financial need.
  • All applicants entering from Orange County must reside (permanently or while a student) in a zip code assigned to Orange County Mensa.
  • More information is on the Mensa Education and Research Foundation website.

Mensa Member logoMensa Member Scholarships

  • American Mensa members (and IRS dependents) are eligible to apply to both the public scholarship program and the American Mensa member scholarship program.
  • Only a single application/essay is required.
  • In the event that a member or dependent wins in both programs, only the scholarship of higher value will be awarded following the Foundation’s rule of one award per applicant.
  • More information is available on the Mensa Foundation’s website.


The answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Mensa Foundation Scholarship Program are available from the Mensa Foundation.

Or, you may contact our OCM Scholarship Chair.

Past Winners

You can see the list of winners for recent years and read sample essays from selected past scholarship winners here.

If you plan to enter your own essay in the competition, look these essays over first to see what our judges have liked in the past. Whether you’re a contestant or not, you’ll enjoy reading some excellent writing from some scholars of high intelligence.

Help support Orange County Mensa’s Scholarship Fund!

You can make a donation to the Orange County Mensa Scholarship.

Please specify that you want your donation to benefit the Orange County Mensa Scholarship. Your donation may help us increase the dollar amount of the scholarship we are able to award.

Because our scholarship is administered by the Mensa Foundation, your donation may be tax-deductible, but please consult your tax adviser. Note that you do not need to be a member of Orange County Mensa, nor reside within Orange County, to make a donation. If desired, your donation can be anonymous.


Volunteer to Be a Judge in for Next Year’s Scholarships

We need judges to read and evaluate essays submitted by students in Orange County. Judging on the local level happens during a three or four week period in late January/early February. For more information, contact our Scholarship Chair, Jessica Doss, at


Judging Process

For those with inquiring minds, the following describes, in detail, the judging process.

At the heart of the national public scholarship program are some 400 or more volunteers, most of whom are members of American Mensa. These volunteers receive and judge the essays on three levels: local, regional and national.

Local judges, such as those in Orange County Mensa, begin the judging. Winning essays then are sent to the regional scholarship level. Orange County Mensa is in Region Nine.

Each local group that participates is guaranteed a minimum of one $300 Foundation scholarship for one of the entrants from their local group competition. This winner is determined by the next higher, regional, level of judging.

At the regional level, the judging process begins all over again, with all the entries submitted from each participating local group in the region. All essays are once again considered eligible for all special national awards as well as local and regional awards and are judged again. The regional judging committee selects the best of the region in all special categories, and the best remaining 4 to be sent on to national judging as possible winners of regional and special national awards.

About 16 national level judges conduct two rounds of national judging. The first round ranks the scholarships for regional awards, and selects the finalists from each region for the special national awards. Then, a second round of judging determines the top award winner and the winners of the restricted, or specific, national awards. After that, the regional winners are identified from the rankings from national judging. Last, the local award winners are identified from the rankings done at the regional level for each participating local group. The over-riding rules for selection are twofold. First, the highest scoring qualifying applicant wins the award. Second, there is exactly one award for each applicant.

There are also a few special regional and local awards that are awarded in this process: Again, just one award for each applicant.

After final judging, the winners’ list is approved by the Board of Trustees and all winning awards are announced by the end of June of the competition year.