In the News

Elizabeth Bonker, a valedictorian with nonverbal autism, just delivered the most inspiring commencement speech

24-year-old Elizabeth Bonker is a writer, non-profit founder and valedictorian of Rollins College. She also has nonverbal autism, which means she uses a text-to-speech assistive device to communicate.

But Elizabeth's autism hasn't stopped her from speaking up for what she believes in. And it *definitely* didn't stop her from giving an awe-inspiring valedictorian speech—which she delivered just last week.

Elizabeth's advice to the new grads? "God gave you a voice. Use it. 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."

The journey to where Elizabeth is today wasn't easy. She was diagnosed with autism when she was just a baby, and she had to learn to talk by pointing at pictures—until she eventually learned how to type. Elizabeth told Rollins College that "the world began to open up" once she was able to use a text-to-speech device.

She continues to use her voice (and her new degree in social innovation) to help others with nonverbal autism communicate through her nonprofit organization, Communication 4 All, which she created during her senior year of college.

Elizabeth also hearts writing and has penned a book about her journey called I'm Still Here. She writes music, too—and has already released two songs from her upcoming album (take a listen).

Graduating at the top of your class is no easy feat...and doing it while advocating for others and making a difference? Now that's an accomplishment we'll always admire.

Learn more about Elizabeth and her nonprofit here!

All images: @communication4allorg


by Camille Duplechain | 5/15/2022