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Sunday, July 14, 2024

24-year-old Lady who cannot talk since birth graduates US university, emerges best-graduating student with 4.00GPA

A 24-year-old lady named Elizabeth Bonker who can not talk since birth has emerged as the best-graduating student of Rollins College in the United States after graduating with a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade point.

Elizabeth Bonker was diagnosed with nonverbal autism as a baby which has not made her speak since she was 15 months old.She bagged her bachelors degree in Social Innovation at Rollins College, United States.

She is among the four other valedictorians in her class who got a perfect 4.0 grade point average. When the valedictorians wanted to choose who would give the speech at their graduation ceremony, they chose Elizabeth since she could communicate by typing and she did not disappoint. 

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She used the text-to-speech computer program to present a speech at the Rollins College graduation ceremony. Her speech was titled “Communication for All” which she delivered without uttering a single word from her mouth.

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“Today we celebrate our shared achievements. I know something about shared achievements because I am affected by a form of autism that doesn’t allow me to speak,” she said.

She encouraged her colleagues and everyone present to always make use of their voices positively. “And no, the irony of a nonspeaking 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,” she said.

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She mentioned that she struggled her whole life with not being heard or accepted citing a story on the front page of her local newspaper reporting how the principal at her high school told a staff member, ‘The retard can’t be valedictorian”.


“Yet today, here I stand. Each day, I choose to celebrate small victories, and today, I am celebrating a big victory with all of you,” she added.

Elizabeth thanked the “faculty, administrators, staff and her heroes for teaching and encouraging which enabled her to shine the light on millions of people in the same predicament as hers.

“I am one of the lucky few nonspeaking autistics who have been taught to type. That one critical intervention unlocked my mind from its silent cage, enabling me to communicate and to be educated like my hero Helen Keller,” she said.

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Bonker’s mother, Virginia Breen, spoke to WTVM about the impact of her daughter’s commencement address and the support they have received. “I’m just going to burst into tears, I think, because it was such a long journey for us. You know, there were times which felt a bit hopeless,” Breen said.

Elizabeth founded her nonprofit organization, Communication 4 ALL, to ensure that non-speakers with autism have access to the communication and education essential to living meaningful lives.

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