Two-time College of Nursing and Health Sciences graduate Dr. Aliette St. Hilaire has added author to her long list of well-earned titles. The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), wife, and mother to three boys, recently published Who Could Have Imagined: Change Your Perspective, Transform Your Destiny, a memoir about the power of faith and determination. The book earned praise from Publishers Weekly, who called her approach to telling her story “poignant” and “unflinching.”
St. Hilaire’s journey began with an idyllic childhood cut short by circumstance. The Bahamas native became pregnant at twelve, a mother at thirteen. Though she felt “written off” as a teen mom without a future, she cultivated strength and a belief in herself through her faith in God. Brought low by social stigma and a lack of resources, St. Hilaire might have given up. Instead, she experienced a turning point. “I had a high school education and was facing multiple challenges while contemplating my future and status,” she says. “Nevertheless, a change in my perspective occurred, allowing me to analyze my circumstances through faith, which strengthened my ability to persevere through the challenges and overcome the obstacles that threatened my life and future.”
With this shift in perspective, St. Hilaire became unstoppable on her path to a thriving healthcare career. Through her experiences as a young mother navigating the healthcare field, she discovered her own interest in nursing. She decided to pursue the profession, earning her BS in Nursing at Florida International University in 2004. She went on to practice as a nurse in the intensive-care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she worked alongside anesthesia teams tasked with intubating and stabilizing critical patients. “I was fascinated,” she says. She enrolled in Barry University’s Anesthesiology program in the summer of 2008 and graduated with a MS in Anesthesiology in 2011. She returned to Barry for her Doctor of Nurse Anesthesiology Practice, which she completed in 2021. Her capstone project, which married her dedication to science and faith, was titled “Confronting Occupational Stress through Wellness and the Human Spirit.” She practices at St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute in her hometown of Palm Beach.
Amid her educational and career pursuits, St. Hilaire has devoted herself to her family, her church, and helping others. With her husband, she teaches Bible study and counsels married couples. She also mentors students pursuing careers in nursing and anesthesiology, as well as highschoolers interested in the field. It is this instinct to help others, that inspired her to write her memoir.
“Over the years, people have asked me to write a book sharing my story,” she says. But, with the arrival of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the project began to feel urgent and necessary. “The past years have been arduous,” she says. “Many of us have experienced loss or adversity in some fashion. The pandemic has induced an increase in substance abuse, depression, and suicide.” Wanting to bring light and hope into a darkened world, St. Hilaire devoted her spare time during the nationwide lockdown to completing her book. The result is an inspiring story of perseverance, faith, and love. “Life happens,” she says. “We will experience challenges; however, we must choose to visualize obstacles through the lens of faith, press on, and remain hopeful while focusing on achieving our goals.”