…today’s secret…Elizabeth Bonker and Mister Rogers.
Valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker recently delivered the commencement speech at Florida’s Rollins College.
She urged her classmates to serve others and embrace the power of sharing.
What makes Elizabeth unique is that she is affected by nonspeaking autism and hasn’t spoken since she was 15 months old. She has overcome that challenge and graduated at the top of her class.
Elizabeth used text-to-speech software to deliver her commencement address.
Someone taught her to type. She said that this one critical intervention unlocked her mind from its silent cage.
She said, “I have typed this speech with one finger with a communication partner holding a keyboard.”
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At the end of her address she challenged her fellow classmates using Rollins College’s most famous alumnus, Fred Rogers.
“When he died, a handwritten note was found in his wallet,” Elizabeth said. “It said, ‘Life is for service.”
She urged her classmates to rip off a piece of paper from their program, write those words down, and tuck the message away in a safe place.
“We are all called to serve, as an everyday act of humility, as a habit of mind,” she said. “To see the worth in every person we serve.”
You go Fred! You go Elizabeth!