2021 Winning Scholarship Essay

This is our winning scholarship essay for 2021.  It was written by Jenna Basham of La Plata, New Mexico.  Jenna received the Mensa Foundation Karen Cooper Memorial Scholarship.

My sophomore year of high school my Grandpa was airlifted to Albuquerque after suffering complications from a pace maker insertion. Grandpa required twenty one units of blood, and spent weeks in the ICU. If he hadn't been flown to Albuquerque, he would not have survived. When he came back, my parents feared he lived too far from his cardiologist. In choosing his home, he made a decision about his health, about his life, and I realized it shouldn't be that way.

As I got older, my interest in medicine grew. After nearly losing my Grandpa, I knew that I wanted to make a difference as a physician in a rural community. This was, and is my ultimate goal. I was determined to live to serve. I started the Health Occupation Students of America club at my high school. I participated in activities to gain knowledge such as the Healthcare Careers Academy and Healers of Tomorrow. I shadowed physicians. I put myself in the shoes of those doctors, affirming that the spark of this calling burned truly for me.

Hearing the stories of patients in the clinic, I started to consider who else needed doctors. I live in a unique and diverse community, so if my family had been affected by the physician shortage, certainly there had to be others. I thought about other rural families, such as my classmates who live on the Navajo reservation and must travel to see a doctor. New Mexico is a special state with neighborhoods that can't be found anywhere else, and these communities must be represented in medicine. Each pocket of underserved, rural populations such as mine have different beliefs, traditions, and values that are celebrated within their borders, but one thing they all have in common is a desperate need for people to represent them and advocate for them in medicine. We all have beautiful stories, and they need to be heard.

While there are many ways to make an impact--inside of and beyond the realm of healthcare--I seek to be one of the diverse and dedicated advocates for better medicine in my own community. I am intent on seeing this goal of mine through. My determination to serve rural communities as a doctor was solidified after my mom was diagnosed with leukemia. My family experienced fear from the diagnosis, but also the relief of promising treatment and reassurance from the doctor. He was patient and caring. I want to be that kind of doctor; present for my patients, and compassionate. Rural areas need doctors not only for heart disease and cancer, but depression, diabetes and a thousand other issues. A simple CBC caught my mother's cancer early, this was only possible because someone made the same decision I'm making now. My experiences have heavily shaped my goals, and I will complete the demanding path to become a physician to work on behalf of my community.


The Mensa Foundation and New Mexico Mensa offer scholarships to students who will be enrolled in post-secondary education for the 2015-2016 school year.  Awards range from $300 to $4000 ($1000 renewable for four years).  The only requirement is an essay of not more than 550 words explaining your goals and how your education will help you reach them.  The entire process occurs on-line.

For a complete set of rules, see http://www.mensafoundation.org/scholarships.

How to Join

The only qualification for Mensa membership is a score in the top 2% of the general population on a supervised standardized test of intelligence. Certain older SAT test scores can also be used as these have been correlated with intelligence tests. You can either submit prior evidence or take two tests that we hold periodically; the testing takes about two hours to complete including a break of 15 minutes. If you are not mathematically inclined, we recommend that you take the Miller Analogy test usually available through a psychologist or University. To be placed on a waiting list of people to be tested, please Email Us.

The American Mensa website has quite a few resources that you may wish to check:

Go to Us.mensa.org and click (at top) on Join Mensa. Then click on a link to your left such as Already Qualified, Submit Test Scores, Membership Application, or perhaps Home Test. Have fun browsing.