Nurse Graduates from NYU After Years Working As a Janitor

A man who worked as a janitor at New York University graduated with a nursing degree from the university on Monday, May 20. Frank Baez, 29, graduated from New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, a spokesperson from the school confirmed with The North Star. Baez was 15 years old when he moved to the US from the Dominican Republic with his two brothers in 2004, CNN reported.

At age 17, Baez got a job at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital as a janitor to help support his family, according to the news station. "I could barely speak English at the time when I started working at NYU," Baez told ABC News. "Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished."

Baez eventually left the janitorial job to pursue his bachelor’s degree at Hunter College in New York City and became the first person in his family to graduate from college, ABC News reported. He told the news station that he always wanted to go back to NYU to become a nurse.

"While working [at NYU] with the nurses, I realized I wanted to be one of them," he told the news station. "I learned how much they advocate for their patients and the passion they have for their job." After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he got a job as a unit clerk at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, CNN reported. Baez told the news station he got to work closely with the nurses, who encouraged him to apply to the College of Nursing.

"I felt inspired by them to become a nurse, so I told them 'I want to be a nurse like you guys,'" he told CNN. "I was inspired by their work and everything they do for their patients."

The 29-year-old entered an accelerated program that allowed him to graduate from the university with a nursing degree in 15 months, ABC News reported. Natalya Pasklinsky, the director of simulation at the college of nursing, told Good Morning America (GMA) that the program “is extremely rigorous.”

"Frank didn’t just kind of make the program, barely getting through. He flew through it with flying colors," Pasklinsky told GMA. Eileen Sullivan-Marx, dean of the NYU nursing school and the Erline Perkins McGriff Professor of Nursing, called Baez “the future of nursing” in a statement to The North Star.

"Frank is the future of nursing, and is well-positioned to enter the field to provide high quality, patient-centered care. NYU Meyers is proud to support pathways for nurses from diverse backgrounds; their perspectives and skills are critical to the profession,” Sullivan-Marx wrote. “The future looks bright with nurses like Frank joining our field.” Baez graduated from the program with a 3.6 GPA, according to FOX-13. He told ABC News that he wants to become a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit. The graduate admitted that while he was never an A student, he worked hard and studied. "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 the news station.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.