Q&A with Eli Kormanik

Q1/ How and when did you join up with Mid-America Mensa?

Eli/ I joined Mid-American Mensa soon after graduating high school. I had been given an IQ test as part of the school’s gifted program and figured while I had access to the test results, I should get my name in the system and see what it’s like. The thought process was it might be a good networking opportunity and I thought it might spur some interesting conversations, as well as help me broaden my social circle, as I grew up in a small town and was about to go out into the world where it would become more difficult to meet new people.

Q2/ What is one important lesson you will always remember from growing up?

Eli/ I think the most important lesson I had to learn growing up was how to reach people, get along with them, and influence them. I struggled with this a lot as a kid and when I went back to public school after being homeschooled through middle school this problem only became more pronounced. Some important things that helped me in this area were: (1) My dad told me to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have read this book a few times through my preteen and late teen years, but the main point is essentially People don’t care what you know until they know that you care, as my dad liked to put it and would tell me multiple times when I would have seemed to forget it. I think this quote can be especially useful to people who are smart and like to look at problems analytically, as opposed to emotionally. While you may be correct and you might have a solution for someone, unless you make a personal connection with them before offering said solution you will be ignored and discounted. Through my childhood and my early high school years I struggled with this a lot; however, when I finally learned it (which is ironic because we’re supposed to learn things quickly) I quickly became pretty popular among my peers and got along with most everyone, culminating in my becoming student body president my senior year where I started a new homecoming tradition that has been repeated this year in my absence. In summary, I think one of the most important lessons I learned growing up is one that most people could use, and that is: No matter how right you are, you have to show people you care about them before they will listen.

Q3/ If you could accomplish something on a grand scale to change the world, what would it be? Are you involved in missionary work, for example?

Eli/ I have been contemplating what I want to do with my life a lot over the past couple of years as I transition from high school to “real life.” I would like to get to the point and acquire the knowledge so that I can teach people how to become financially free. My dad and uncle are both entrepreneurs who started their own businesses and have impressed on me a strong financial basis and I am exceedingly grateful for the knowledge and opportunities they have given me. I would like to be able to pass that on to more people to help them accomplish their dreams without just working until they die. I think this will be a multi-pronged approach that will include creating some education and maybe some politics that make it easier for the “little guy” to get started. I think a lot of people have the potential to make their life better but sometimes lack the confidence or stability to “go for it” and I would like to be the one to help offer those things.

Q4/ Which is better: being comfortable in life or wise with many stories to tell?

Eli/ I would definitely be wise with many stories to tell. One of my greatest fears in life is getting to my deathbed and looking back and wondering what I even accomplished. I want to leave my family, church, community, and hopefully country as a whole, better than I found it, and would be extremely disappointed in myself if I reached the end of my life and accomplished nothing of substance outside making my own life “more comfortable.” I think if you spend too much time “comfortable” it’s a sign you are not doing enough for yourself or others and that is when you end up dying.

Q5/ What are your other goals in life? In Mensa?

Eli/ I’ll start with my goals in Mensa. I’m still learning about the organization. However, I have always enjoyed the “political” side of things so once I become more established I will likely look towards some elected positions and try to leave a lasting impact for the better. It’s too early to tell for now though. For life as a whole though, I have a multi-step plan setup that is currently in the planning stage. First, I would like to get a real estate license and start selling real estate. I don’t plan to sell real estate for a really long time, but the goal is to learn the market and get some connections so that I can start developing/investing in real estate. The goal is to use that to build some capital for some other currently undecided entrepreneurial investments and ventures, to the point where I can fund my own political journey without “selling out” to lobbyists and large corporations. (That might be my teenage naivety to assume that possible, but one can dream. Right?) I would hope to use my influence there to accomplish the goal stated above and help middle-class Americans be able to live more fulfilling lives without living paycheck to paycheck as an increasing number of them do.

Q&A with Kitty Solbrig

Q&A with Kitty Solbrig

Q1/ When did you join Mensa?

Kitty/ I joined Mensa in 2019 thinking that it would be a great way to meet some other people in Las Vegas who wanted to do things that were more interesting than the usual Vegas pastimes. Of course, there was a pandemic right after that, so we ended up doing a lot of nothing for most of that time. I’m still grateful for the people I met and the connections I made right before we all got locked down.

Q2/ What have you been doing recently with your interest in dancing?

Kitty/ Lately, I’ve been teaching beginner-level dance lessons and offering a few private lessons to help people who want to learn the skill of social dancing. This isn’t my career and we usually don’t charge for group lessons — it’s just something we do because dancing is more fun when more people can do it! My husband and I generally teach together, and we make a great team since we have very different backgrounds and perspectives on dance. I also compete, though I’m 4 months pregnant and I’m finding it a little harder to dance the night away like I used to. I’ll be competing again before the baby is born, probably in both Cincinnati and Baltimore, and then we’ll see how parenting a newborn goes before we book any more dance trips. For now, I dance every Tuesday and Thursday in Overland Park, and we mostly teach out of our house in Independence.

Q3/ Do you enjoy reading? What are some of your favorite genres? Will you perhaps be a writer someday?

Kitty/ I read the way that most people watch television, probably because I don’t watch TV at all. Lately, I’ve been enjoying science fiction and fantasy, though I always come back to science nonfiction eventually. I am, in fact, a professional writer now. My full time job is writing for a legal technology company, and I take freelance jobs as they get referred to me from previous clients.

Q4/ What are some other local interests you are wanting to explore?

Kitty/ Having moved here from Las Vegas a little less than a year ago, my husband and I love that Kansas City has so much culture. In Vegas, if you want to go see a play, it’s probably going to be in a casino, and every show has to be over-the-top in some way. There’s just a little bit of community theater there. Here, we regularly go to community and professional theater shows, visit museums about boring things like history and art, and shop at farmers’ markets that actually have vegetables. We’re also super stoked about the board game community here. As avid gamers, we host a game night at our home about once a month that involves strategy games and dinner (and usually late night dancing) and we’re regulars at Cardboard Corner in Overland Park. Our current Dungeons and Dragons campaign is coming to an end in about 3 months, and then after our baby is born in June, we’re planning to host a new campaign from our place in Independence. If there are any gamers out there who want to join in, get in touch!

Q5/ What can we expect from you as a MAM Board member?

Kitty/ As a board member, I’m looking forward to serving MAM in whatever ways I can. You might not see me at a ton of social events because of my dance schedule (and my pregnancy) but I’m digitally present. Don’t be surprised if I offer some special Mensa dance lessons, too.

Mensa Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest 2023

Mensa Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest 2023

Mid-America Mensa is proud to be participating again this year in the Mensa Education and Research Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest. Entry forms are now available at: www.mensafoundation.org/scholarships. The application form is online; applicants will submit their essays at the Mensa website.

As in the past, applicants submit a 550-word essay describing their goals and aspirations. The essays selected by local judges will go on to be judged at the Regional and National levels for the awarding of scholarships. Any person who will be enrolled in an accredited US institution for the 2023-2024 academic year is eligible to participate. It is not necessary to be a member of Mensa. There is a separate competition for Mensans and their dependents, with details available at the same website. The deadline to participate is January 15th, 2023.

Many of the scholarships are unrestricted, meaning that all entrants will compete for them. There is also a number of restricted awards whose recipients must meet certain criteria. The following is a brief synopsis of those:

  • 4 Paws and a Tail ($1,000) – Restricted to graduate level studies or continuing education of an established Veterinarian
  • Bob and Mary Ann Cox Scholarship ($1,000) – For a student who has been out of formal education for a period of six or more years.
  • Carol Martinez Scholarship ($2,500) – Restricted to the field of information technology.
  • David Mann Scholarship ($2,000) – Study of aeronautical engineering or an aerospace field.
  • Don and Virginia Prince Scholarship ($600) – Must be a military veteran or spouse of a veteran.
  • Dr. Peter M. Kendall Science Scholarship ($600) – Restricted to the Natural Sciences including but not limited to Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Environmental Science, Forestry, Pre-Med, or Pre-Dentistry.
  • Thiel Memorial Scholarship ($600) – Study of natural sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, environmental science, forestry, pre-med, pre-dentistry).
  • Greg Timmers Arts Education Scholarship ($600) – Fine Arts that can include applied arts such as architecture, photography, ceramics, and textiles.
  • Harper Fowley – Isolated M Award ($600) – Study for an undergraduate liberal arts degree (B.A. or A.A.).
  • Helen Kupper Scholarship ($600) – For a student pursuing a degree in the Fine Arts.
  • Margie Mandelblatt Award ($1,000) – Study in journalism.
  • Margot Seitelman Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) – Graduate student who plans a career in professional writing or teaching English grammar and/or writing.
  • Rita Levine Memorial Scholarship ($600) – For a female returning to school after any absence of seven or more years – may be re-enrolled at time of application.
  • Rosemary Greathouse Scholarship ($600) – For a student pursuing a degree in the Arts, including creative writing and journalism.
  • The Skinner HELL’s M’s Memorial Scholarship ($500) – Interpersonal communications, mediation, or related study.
  • STEM Scholarship ($2,000) – For natural and applied science, technology, and math majors (includes medical and health sciences majors).
  • The Sylvia Scholarship ($1,000) – For a woman pursuing a degree in the Natural Sciences or Mathematics.
  • Walt and Mary McGrew Scholarship for Veterans ($1,000) – For a veteran.
  • STEM Scholarship for Women ($7,000) – (Seven scholarships) – Restricted to the study of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for a female or transgender female.
  • CGM Health Careers Scholarship ($600) – Restricted to Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapy, or other Allied Health Fields
  • First Timers’ Grant ($1,000) – Affirm and declare that applicant is the first person in family to have earned more than twelve college credits.
  • Celebrating Racial Diversity ($1,000) – For a person of color.
  • Mark J Glancey & John G Gray LGBT Scholarship ($1,000) – For a student who openly identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
  • Ruth Ann Parvin Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) – (Six scholarships) – Education (pre-school through grade 12) including special education and gifted education.
  • Progress Pride Scholarship ($10,000) – Self-identify as both BIPOC and LGBTQ+. Demonstrated record of positive service to the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

Please pass this information on to anyone you know who might be interested. Questions should be addressed to Rhonda Johnston at (913)671-8736 or by email at [email protected].

Election Soon of MAM’s 2023-2024 Board Members

Mid-America Mensa (MAM) will be electing a new Board of Directors soon. MAM’s Nominating Committee has chosen the following Board member nominees for their slate of board officers:

LocSec — Curt Krambeck
1st Vice President — Rob Swenson
2nd Vice President — Cynthia Heller
Secretary — Jean Matzeder Plumb
Treasurer — Diana Dyer
1st Member at Large — Anita Ford
2nd Member at Large — Kitty Solbrig

MAM’s Nominating Committee will meet from 6:30 to 7:00 pm via Zoom on January 11th, one day prior to the MAM Board meeting scheduled for January 12th, 2023, to present the slate to the Election Committee.

MAM’s Nominating Committee is responsible for submitting a slate of officers at the Nominating Meeting to be held no later than January 15th. There is also an option for making nominations from the floor, but some stipulations apply, so it is important to review the requirements in the MAM Bylaws if you may be interested.

According to Mid-America Mensa Bylaws (Article IV — Election Procedures, Part 4):

“Additional nominations may be made from the floor at the nominating meeting by any member in good standing and must be seconded by another such member. Nominations may also be submitted in writing, and seconded in writing, by mail, prior to the nominating meeting. Such nominations shall be sent to the chair of the Nominating Committee at an address printed along with the notice of the nominating meeting in the local publication.”

“Any additional nominees shall confirm in writing their willingness to serve, no later than the time and date of the nominating meeting.”

If there is only one nominee for any position, the Election Committee will announce the nominee to be elected ‘by acclamation’. If there is more than one nominee for any position, the MAM Election Committee will be responsible for conducting an election in accordance with the group Bylaws.

Hunting for the Haunted

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published on this website on October 13th, 2018. Happy Halloween!

So, as to not cast any shadows on the whole concept and theory of occult studies, let me begin by introducing you to a psychic investigator and a former member of Mensa, Maurice Schwalm. Maurice Schwalm passed away on January 3, 2001 at the age of 72 years. Yet, he spent many years and much of his life as a member of the American Society of Psychical Research and the Mensa Education & Research Foundation (MERF). His Occult Studies Special Interest Group (SIG) was somehow connected with Mensa – but his bright fame was from the mark, or impression, he placed upon the public through radio, literature, and other news outlets. Something of a ghost was nearly always present in his work whether in pictures that he captured with his camera (with a “ghost hand” inside, he felt) or in the writings he left to us. Supernatural images could be found from premonitions of the Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse to Polaroid shots of people dancing where there was no one physically present.

During the ‘70s and ‘80s, the spirits must have been more active. A series of Mr. Schwalm’s occult studies were published as articles in the Mension (the official newsletter of Mid-America Mensa). Around Halloween every year, local news reporters would consult with our resident expert, Mr. Schwalm. Also, the Johnson County Library has multiple copies of Maurice Schwalm’s collected papers in the vertical files at the Central Resource Branch. Just look for the folder marked ‘Haunted Places – KC Area’. Or, check out his book ‘Mo-Kan Ghosts: The Casebook of a Kansas City Psychic Investigator’. Whether it’s fact or fiction depends upon your own system of belief and your best perception of things.

In the meantime, have some fun this Halloween with whatever you are wanting to do. Oh, and by the way, Mid-America Mensa is hosting a Halloween party as it does almost every year at this time. Gather up your friends, grab a costume and a few props (and maybe a good, reliable recording device!), and search for yourself for that which has never been seen or heard before. Whether the supernatural is a paranormal haunting or something else entirely is going to be strictly a matter of your interpretation and opinion.

Sources (which are no longer available):

LibAnswers – https://answers.jocolibrary.org/faq/209478
Ghost Dance – https://www.thepitchkc.com/news/articles/20606408/ghost-dance
Haunted Kansas City – https://info.umkc.edu/unews/haunted-kansas-city-mysterious-tales-from-kansas-citys-past-and-present/

Attention: MAM Wins Sapphire Award!

Mid-America Mensa (MAM) received some well-deserved recognition during the recent 2022 American Mensa Annual Gathering.  In Class II, MAM was awarded a SAPPHIRE for a variety of its activities and accomplishments — earned by the local group as a whole.  Basically, local groups can earn points for “membership-related activities and for active participation in all that Mensa has to offer to positively impact the experience of the Local Group members”.  This award is the culmination of points earned during the fiscal year just completed for April 2021 – March 2022.  For more about this, see:  Jewel Awards Criteria, https://www.us.mensa.org/recognize/group-awards/local-group-jewels/

Awards like this one from American Mensa are like a precious gemstone because they show a certain degree of bright, active participation and glowing vitality that are so greatly needed by a living, breathing social organization.  We have achieved the SAPPHIRE level of recognition for several years now which perhaps indicates a stable core group of core members who continue to build the story of Mid-America Mensa and with a high level of service to MAM’s members from year to year.  In addition, MAM continues to foster the diversity and growth of our entire membership by hosting diverse local activities and events.  Cabin Fever, held early in the year, is one such event.  Truly, we must like each other well enough to stick around with each other in Mid-America Mensa.  Belonging to MAM continues to be time well spent by our members.  So, congratulations to Mid-America Mensa for winning this American Mensa Local Group Jewel award!

2022 Jewel Sapphire Award