Elizabeth Bonker, who has non-speaking autism, is Valedictorian Class of 2022, Rollins College


TEDMED Speakers

Virginia Breen and Elizabeth Bonker

Elizabeth Bonker is a talented young woman who, like any other 14-year-old, is simply trying to discover her place in this world – a task made infinitely more difficult by autism. Unable to speak, Ms. Bonker nevertheless illuminates the inner world of autism through the poems she types one finger at a time. In her recently published book, I Am in Here, she implores us through her poetry to look past the unusual behaviors of autism to see the intelligent people beyond the condition. Bonker wants to be a voice for those who cannot yet speak for themselves. Her goal is to help parents, doctors and educators understand that children affected by autism are not problems to be endured, but hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

Virginia Breen is the mother of three beautiful children, two of whom are profoundly affected by autism. She has contributed inspirational stories from the journey to Elizabeth’s poetry in I Am in Here. Besides working to heal her children, Breen has more than 25 years’ experience as a venture capitalist, investing in emerging growth companies, and she currently sits on a number of corporate and non-profit boards. Previously, she studied computer science and electrical engineering at Harvard, business at Columbia and eastern philosophies in Singapore. She says even in the darkest days, she knew Elizabeth was in there.



Rollins College is a private college in Winter Park, Florida. It was founded in November 1885 and has about 30 undergraduate majors and several graduate programs. It is Florida’s fourth oldest post-secondary institution. Wikipedia

Is Rollins College an Ivy League school?

First Class Ivy League University – Review of Rollins College, Winter Park, FL – Tripadvisor.





We are starting a movement at http://www.communication4all.org. This music video is the title song for my I Am in Here album. It includes 60 nonspeakers who type to communicate. Please join us by signing up and spreading the word! -Elizabeth



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