Fact Check: Did a 2-year-old become the youngest member of the American Mensa?
Reports began swirling this week that a 2-year-old girl from California was admitted into the American Mensa society.
The American Mensa, auspices to the oldest high IQ society, Mensa International, is the aristocracy’s largest division with over 50,000 affiliates. And Kashe Quest, a new Los Angeles-based member, is its youngest yet.
At the age of 2, Quest has developed an inclination toward geography, language, mathematics, and learning. She can distinguish all 50 states by shape or on a map, recite her alphabet, identify symbols of the periodic table, count to 100, and signal over 50 signs in American sign language (ASL). While the average American IQ is approximately 100 — Quest marks above the genius level — with an IQ of 146.
Some may question how Mensa, the high IQ society, came to be. According to the Mensa International website, “Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by a barrister named Roland Berrill, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. Mensa’s original aims were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions… Mensa is a round-table society where ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational and social background are all completely irrelevant.”
However, what is relevant, is the qualification of scoring within the upper 98% of the general population on a Mensa-approved intelligence test. This is no easy feat. From 100 participating countries, it is estimated that there are roughly 145,000 Mensans worldwide. For context, WorldoMeters figured this year would solidify a 7.9 billion global population. So, 2-year-old Quest’s elite intellectualism is nothing short of extraordinary.
Today, the country’s Mensans are aged between 2 and 102. The membership process is straightforward. The system’s required IQ test may be taken with a local group or scheduled privately to establish fellowship.
Further, Mensa’s IQ test includes but is not limited to math equations, puzzles, and verbal or spatial reasoning. As the British Mensa clarifies, “Intelligence is often confused with knowledge, wisdom, memory, or other attributes and in general has a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. The term IQ usually refers to the attempt to measure a person’s mental agility.” These traits are not to be conflated.
The claim: Did a 2-year-old become the youngest member of the American Mensa?
Our findings: True. Kashe Quest is a miniature genius who made history.
Quest is among the top .0001 percent of worldly scholars. Her budding life experiences touch diverse intersections of identity and excellence. The toddler’s mother, Sukhjit Athwal, has a background in education and childhood development. Among her other preschool students, Athwal remains committed to their one-on-one curriculums, which evolve with Quest’s genius interests.
“She will wake up on a Saturday and say, ‘I want to do elements,’ or ‘I want to do states.’ Whenever she’s leaning into it, we’re just there to support her,” the toddler’s father, Devon Quest, a UCLA School of Law magna cum laude graduate, explained of his daughter during an on-camera interview. The child’s mother added that “[Quest] is a toddler at heart. She has her tantrums. We want to keep that youthfulness in her as long as we can.”
Initially, the baby’s pediatrician regarded her unique comprehension of colors and shapes at her 18-month appointment. Her mother made a family investment and created a preschool to monitor her progression amid the pandemic, beside The Modern Schoolhouse. The brilliant child continues to grow swiftly. Presently, Quest can read at a kindergarten level and is studying to become fluent in Spanish. As her curiosities expand, Trevor Mitchell, the executive director of American Mensa, noted to PEOPLE, “We are proud to have her and to be able to help her and her parents with the unique challenges that gifted youth encounter.” And though freshly appointed, the 2-year-old is already among renowned, clever company.
Quest’s more youthful peers include Caleb Anderson, a 12-year-old college sophomore making aerospace engineering headlines with fluency in multiple languages. Beyond supreme comprehension, Quest will be required to adhere to fundamental principles of kindness. For example, the Mensa Constitution states, “Mensa provides a forum for intellectual exchange among members… and assistance to researchers inside and outside Mensa in projects dealing with intelligence… Intelligence should be used for the benefit of humanity. Therefore, Mensa shall have no aim which is to the disadvantage of the community.”
The bubbly personality showcased on Quest’s Instagram alludes to her owning these qualities. Moreover, her logic and ability to decipher patterns have taken her far. “She has always shown us, more than anything, the propensity to explore her surroundings and to ask the question, ‘Why?’” her father recently explained to CNN. “If she doesn’t know something, she wants to know what it is and how does it function, and once [Quest] learns it, she applies it.”
Mensa members have access to distinct lectures, special-interest groups; and regional, national, and international gatherings. Quest’s mother’s fixation on her toddler maintaining contact with children encourages social development ahead of future events. “She needs to be with children her age and not have that pressure put on her to be older than she needs to be or act older,” Athwal affirmed in a recent interview.
The child’s studies are well-rounded, but her parents provide her the autonomy to learn at her own pace. The American Mensans Demographics and Figures page explains that “membership is diverse… [including] engineers, homemakers, teachers, actors, athletes, students, CEOs and people from virtually every walk of life.” With Quest’s 3rd birthday approaching, the path she will choose honing an IQ of 146 is unwritten. Adjacent to the Mensa Foundation’s 50th anniversary, she has access to scholarship programs, fellowships, grants, and their “bedrock principles of empowering intelligence for the betterment of humanity.”
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