Dr. Robert St. Hilaire
Professor St. Hilaire is a classic, yet very rare example of someone who follows his heart.
I feel like the luckiest person in the world, because I am doing every day what I love, he says.
When he puts it that way, it sounds so simple. However, he'd be one of the first people to say that following one's passion entails a lot of work.
Originally from Lewiston, Maine, St. Hilaire went through quite the transition to arrive in Lewiston, New York as a religious studies professor at Niagara University.
After graduating high school, St. Hilaire was accepted into Boston University for pre-med.
I wanted to be a doctor, he said. I got in, saw I could be a religion major and switched and never looked back. It just seemed interesting to me.
St. Hilaire went on to complete his first masters degree at BU. He completed his second masters as well as his doctorate at Harvard Divinity School. I spent nine years at Harvard. You're very humbled when you go there because you see how smart people can really be, he says.
The secret to his success was simple. Nobody loved it more and nobody worked harder than me, he says.
Impressively, St. Hilaire got a job at NU shortly after graduating. Here, he's already made quite the impact on students as one of their most intriguing professors.
Clearly I'm doing something that's working and that makes me feel good, he says.
That something may be his upbeat mannerisms, his openness for contrasting discussions or maybe even his sense of humor.
I try very hard to use humor in the classroom, he said. He notes it's a challenge to find the sweet balance between being the laugh riot clown and having the tumbleweed go by.
When not teaching, St. Hilaire enjoys swimming, traveling and watching Star Wars. He has another hobby his students may be surprised to know about. I've done a variety of different martial arts over the years. I used to be dangerous, but not anymore, he says. For someone my size, I could be reckoned with.
No matter what he does in life, his advice to others will always be the same. Follow your passion, even when other people tell you not to. Do what you're supposed to do. Don't do what other people want you to do. Do what you want to do, he says.