A college valedictorian who has autism and cannot speak gives an inspiring speech to her fellow graduates, encouraging them to use the voice God gave them.
College Graduation Speech By Inspiring Autistic Graduate
On May 8, Rollins College held the students’ graduation. And one of the College Valedictorians chosen to speak, Elizabeth Bonker, gave a moving message to her fellow graduates. There were 529 graduating students and four valedictorians in their class.
Elizabeth has autism, and for that reason, she hasn’t been able to speak since she was 15 months old. But during her graduation, the young lady didn’t allow her condition from sharing an encouraging speech. She used “a text-to-speech computer program” to deliver her commencement speech.
“God gave you a voice. Use it,” the college valedictorian told the graduates. “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.”
Finding Hope Despite Discrimination
Then Elizabeth shared a part of her struggle in the journey before she could stand on stage at their graduation today.
“Personally, I have struggled my whole life with not being heard or accepted,” she further explained. “A story on the front page of our local newspaper reported how the principal at my high school told a staff member, ‘The retard can’t be valedictorian.'”
Elizabeth stressed that despite the discrimination, it didn’t stop her from chasing her dreams and aspirations. That’s why now, she graduated as valedictorian with a Degree in Social Innovation.
“Yet today, here I stand,” she added. “Each day, I choose to celebrate small victories, and today, I am celebrating a big victory with all of you.”
On top of her academic success, Elizabeth also founded a nonprofit organization called Communication 4 ALL. According to the website, its goal is “ensure that non-speakers with autism have access to the communication and education essential to living meaningful lives.”
Reference | Faithpot
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