Praise for the Book
“de Avila's fascinating journey includes reassuring and encouraging correspondence so characteristic of my late father - a remarkable man committed to helping others discover the gifts within themselves."
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
“Diana de Avila is no ordinary woman. She survived a deadly motorcycle accident while serving in the military police; she overcame her devastation when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; and one day, she awakened as an acquired savant. De Avila is nothing short of a scientific miracle, shaking up society's stale preconceptions about human potential. Vividly narrated in the highly relatable voice of Wilma Davidson, Soldier, Sister, Savant is an immensely readable, intimate, and life-affirming story of coming to grips with disability and adversity and of freeing the genius in your brain.”
Dr. Berit Brogaard, D.M. Sci., Ph.D., Author of Hatred: Understanding Our Most Dangerous Emotion and The Superhuman Mind, among others
Professor and Director of Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research at the University of Miami
“If we measure life by what is possible and what can be gained, Diana de Avila's story is a remarkable example. Her passion for life and perseverance shines through. This is a must-read story of true human potential when faced with the challenges and consequences of living with a traumatic brain injury and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. In spite of this reality, we also see an incredible transformation of new abilities and potential unfold before our eyes.”
Keith W. L. Rafal, MD, MPH
Founder, Our Heart Speaks, Inc (OHS)
Assistant Clinical Professor, Brown University
Adjunct/Clinical Assistant Professor, Tufts University Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
“After recounting Diana de Avila’s early careers as a soldier, nun, and successful business woman, Dr. Wilma Davidson and Diana delineate her processes and accomplishments as a visual artist savant induced by Multiple Sclerosis and a prior traumatic brain injury. A unique and important contribution to the literature on a creative phenomenon.”
Professor Emerita, Rutgers University
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (DHL) from Mt. Holyoke College as a Distinguished Alumnae
Second Ed.D. Honorary Doctorate from Monmouth University for service to the state of New Jersey in the teaching of writing
"The only thing more fascinating than Diana de Avila's visually stunning artwork is the story of how she came upon her rare talent. This artist's journey is one of challenges met and overcome. Soldier, Sister, Savant provides an engaging, personal look into the little-known world of Acquired Savant Syndrome and a deeper understanding of how Diana's amazing artwork is born."
Director, Virginia War Memorial
“Diana de Avila has experienced injury, illness and adversity yet continued to move forward. A recurrence of illness, which could have proved a setback, instead brought a gift that has translated into an impressive body of artwork. In Soldier, Sister, Savant the reader is provided insight into Ms. de Avila’s journey and navigation to a new reality.”
Donald Higgins, M.D.
Chief Physician Educator, National Center for Patient Safety, Veterans Health Administration
Professor of Neurology, Albany Medical College
"Works created by most savants have an engaging style and gift containing the key to a beauty most of us can't perceive. However, de Avila’s body of work brilliantly bridges the gap while offering visually sumptuous and compelling works that demand to be examined and understood."
"Sometimes we spend a lifetime trying to find our talents, and sometimes our talents find us. This is the story of Diana de Avila, an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary gift and a heart full of resilience."
Mafer Bencomo, Documentary filmmaker
Ringling College and Design student