A man who started as a janitor at New York University at the age of 15 has now earned his nursing degree from the same prestigious school.
Frank Baez was just a teen who barely spoke English when he came to the U.S. with his mother from the Dominican Republic, according to ABC News.
He wanted to help support his family so he got a housekeeping job at NYU’s Langone Tisch Hospital.
That’s where the bug bit him. He wanted to learn about medicine.
First, he got a job as patient transport, moving patients from their rooms to the operating room or for testing.
He left that job once it was time to attend college. He got a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and was the first in his family to graduate from college, ABC News reported.
But that wasn’t enough.
“While working [at NYU] with the nurses, I realized I wanted to be one of them. I learned how much they advocate for their patients and the passion they have for their job,” Baez told ABC News.
It was those same nurses who encouraged him to apply to NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He graduated in 15 months with a nursing degree thanks to an accelerated program at the school.
“I was never an A student. I just studied a lot and worked a lot. Of course there were times I doubted myself, but then I felt that I wanted to do something more for myself, that I deserved better, that I wanted to continue to move forward and grow and go on with my life, Baez told ABC news. “What I did was I never gave up.”
Natalya Pasklinsky, director of simulation learning at Rory Meyers, remembered Baez when he worked as a janitor and eventually patient transporter at Langone Tisch Hospital.
“The way he interacted with patients, to me showed a lot of compassion. In my mind, he’s a star. I think he’s going to be a fantastic nurse,” Pasklinsky told ABC News.
Being a regular nurse isn’t what’s in the cards for Baez. He now has his sights set on becoming a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit.
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