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Conversation with Larae Bakerink on America and Mensa, Mr. and Mrs. Mensa, and Attractions of Mensa: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (3)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/11/15


LaRae Bakerink was the Elected Chair of American Mensa and a Member of the Executive Committee of the International Board of Directors of Mensa International. She has been a Member of San Diego Mensa since 2001. Bakerink earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance and an M.B.A. in Management. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Steve. She discusses: American Mensa; Mr. and Mrs. Mensa; main attractions of Mensa; communication gap, EQ, and IQ; and tests for Mensa admission.

Keywords: American Mensa, EQ, Executive Committee, intelligence, IQ, Larae Bakerink, Mensa Foundation, Mensa International, Mr. Mensa, Mrs. Mensa, San Diego.

Conversation with Larae Bakerink on America and Mensa, Mr. and Mrs. Mensa, and Attractions of Mensa: (Former) Elected Chair, American Mensa; (Former) Member, International Board of Directors, Mensa International (3)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What states in particular are more prominently represented within American Mensa?

Larae Bakerink[1],[2]: The higher population states. So, it’s going to be the whole eastern seaboard, New York all down through there, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, just the large cities where more people are located. It’s going to be the same for Mensas. I mean one out of every 50 people qualifies for Mensa. Not everybody joins. And a lot of them do not even realize that they qualify. So, it’s just up to us to figure out how to let them know about us.

Jacobsen: You also have a Mr. Mensa and Mrs. Mensa. What is this?

Bakerink: Mr. and Mrs. Mensa was the contest I was talking about earlier. And what they normally do is then they become like a representative for the foundation. They wear their crown and their sash to events and they encourage people to donate. So, it’s like a big thing for a year. They get to wear their crown and sash to the different events. One of the ways that they raise money is like have a picture with Mrs. Mensa, pay five bucks and then the five dollars goes to the foundation. So, it’s more to encourage our members to let them know about the foundation and then also to get donations for it. And it’s a lot of fun for the people who are involved because someone says, “Why are you wearing a crown?” And then they go, “Well, let me tell you why.” And it just gives them an opportunity to talk about the foundation. And the foundation, they give scholarships. I think it’s from December 1st or November 1st.

People who are going to be in college over the next year can submit an essay as to why they feel that they should get a scholarship. And there’s different scholarships for different things, whether you want to go into engineering or whether you’re LGBTQ or whether you’re going to be a teacher or you want to be an English professor; there’s different scholarships for different things. And you do not have to be a member of Mensa to get a scholarship. It’s for everybody. There are specific ones just for members, but there are designated different scholarship. So, the foundation gives out a lot of scholarships every year. And the nice thing is it involves our members too because all of the essays that are submitted are graded by our members.

Each local group will form a scholarship committee and they’ll review and grade the scholarships and then that goes up to the regional to be graded. And then from there they determine who are the winners and then everybody is notified. And they get anywhere from $600, and then just the regular scholarships goes up to $3,000 to $5,000. And then the foundation has other special awards like the Copper Black Award and stuff, which are large grants that can be $20,000, $10,000, depending on what it’s for. In fact, they just started a new grant program for teachers too.

Jacobsen: What seem to be some of the more main attractions to people?

Bakerink: It’s so different for everybody. Some people want to join just so they can say they have the card. It was a self-affirmation. I did a survey years and years ago just of our local, “Why did you join?” And some of the answers were, “Well, my husband told me, I was too stupid. I qualified. He did not.” I mean because it’s not just Mensa itself. It’s the aptitude that they could qualify and that’s what they care about. Some people are just happy getting their magazine, their monthly magazine. They want to do the crossword puzzles or read what’s going on in their local group. Some people want to do international travel. We have a program called SITE. And I can never remember what it stands for. But basically, what it is, it’s an international travel thing. So, say I want to go to South Africa, I contact their site person in South Africa, and I say, “Where the best hostel is?”

And so, they’ll give you information. A lot of times they may even put you up at their house themselves or take you out to dinner because they get excited about having the foreigners come in from everywhere. And we have it in the United States. It’s not quite as active here because people are a little more nervous or litigious. Not quite sure, but, at least, they provide information. So, when you’re going to go visit somewhere and you’re in Mensa, you can contact their site person in that country and they will provide you with information, let you know about tickets for things and help you along. Some of them will pick them up at the airport. It just depends on the situation and where they are. But I think it’s really given a great flavor to some of our membership that want to travel and didn’t have this ability gather all this knowledge before they go on a trip.

So, some people use it for that. One of our taglines for a while was find the people that get your jokes. Just to be around the people that you feel like you can be normal and be yourself and not have to hold back or worry that they’re going to look at you like, “What did you just say?”

Jacobsen: Do you think there is a communication gap in general – what people experience when they’re at Mensa level or above in terms of their cognitive ability?

Bakerink: I think it has a lot to do with their EQ as well as their IQ. If they have a higher EQ, their ability to communicate no matter who they’re speaking to is better. But if they have a low EQ and a high IQ, they do not understand why someone isn’t comprehending what they’re saying. And so, that makes it a lot more difficult and they feel more separate. They feel distanced from that person. And so, this gives them the ability to just sit and talk and be understood and not worry about being looked at that way.

Jacobsen: I think it’s almost a situation where people in the same country in different regions, but they have a different patois. So, they talk past one another, not all the time but, enough of the time to frustrate one another. And they go, “Those darn x,” and the other people go, “Those darn y.”

Bakerink: Exactly. And it’s that way everywhere. But I mean it really is, I think, more noticeable when you have a big variance in the intelligence level. But like I said, EQ mix can really close that gap if the EQ is high. It’s a lot easier to close that gap to understand and speak to the level of your audience. And that’s kind of what I try to train some of the people coming up in leadership is: gauge your audience. Do not say what you want to say, gauge your audience so they hear what you need them to hear.

Jacobsen: Good point. Now, you mentioned the Stanford-Binet earlier and you mentioned the Wechsler (Adult) Intelligence Scale. To clarify, these are proctored mainstream intelligence tests that are designed to measure intelligence and have the most reliable valid statistics on measuring this psychological construct. So, what other tests can the mainstream of intelligence testing appear to have a higher reliability and validity acceptable to the standards of Mensa international?

Bakerink: American Mensa, I believe, two hundred different tests that we will accept for qualification. And a lot of them, I mean some of them are military admission tests depending on what it is the type of test. There’s different tests that schools give. There’s just so many different tests out there that have to be reviewed by our supervisory psychologist to make sure they meet the standards before she will allow them.

Jacobsen: In conversations with her, what are some of the metrics that you’re gathering that she’s taking into account when considering some of these tests?

Bakerink: That you’d have to ask her. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist. I cannot speak reliably to that. Especially her, she has only been with us for a couple of months now, so we have a new supervisory psychologist. So, I have not had the time to really talk to her about this. So, I can’t answer that well.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Former Chair, American Mensa; Former Member, International Board of Directors (Executive Committee), Mensa International; Former Ex-Officio Member, Mensa Foundation; Member, San Diego Mensa.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 15, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: January  1, 2022:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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