At Rollins College (FL), a student with nonspeaking autism was selected by her peers to deliver the valedictory graduation address. Elizabeth Bonker was one of five valedictorians who earned perfect 4.0 GPAs. “I have typed this speech with one finger with a communication partner holding a keyboard,” Bonker told the audience, using a text-to-speech program where she types words one letter at a time. “I am one of the few lucky nonspeaking autistics who have been taught to type.”
Bonker encouraged her fellow graduates to live a life of service. “Rollins has instilled in all of us that service to others gives meaning to our own lives and to those we serve,” she said. And she’ll be living that mission after graduation by working with her nonprofit organization Communication 4 All with the goal to make communication accessible to the 31 million people worldwide with nonspeaking autism. “My life will be dedicated to relieving them from suffering in silence and to giving them voices to choose their own way,” Bonker said.
Read more about Elizabeth and this story here.