Nonspeaking Valedictorian With Autism Gives Moving Commencement Speech

May 13, 2022

Rollins College valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker has non-speaking autism and communicates solely by typing.

She delivered a moving commencement speech, urging her fellow graduates to use their voices, serve others, and see the value in everyone they meet.

Elizabeth Bonker speech
Elizabeth Bonker

Bonker was unanimously chosen by her four fellow valedictorians to deliver the speech to the college's 529 graduating students. She used a text-to-speech program to deliver her speech.

"God gave you a voice. Use it," Bonker told the graduating class. "And no, the irony of a non-speaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the worth in me, then you can see the worth in everyone you meet."

Bonker, who graduated with a degree in social innovation, has also created her own nonprofit organization, called Communication 4 ALL, that works to "ensure that non-speakers with autism have access to the communication and education essential to living meaningful lives."

She is also a poet and author who wrote a book, "I Am In Here," about her journey as a child with autism.

Listen to the speech below.

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