At the age of 15, Frank Baez moved from the Dominican Republic to New York City with his mother. As a teen, the first thing he did was get a job cleaning patients' rooms and bathrooms at New York University's Langone Tisch Hospital.
Nearly 15 years later, Baez earned a nursing degree from the same school where he worked as a janitor.
On May 20, Baez, 29, graduated from the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. In a conversation with Good Morning America, Baez reflected on his early days working as a janitor at NYU.
"I could barely speak English at the time when I started working at NYU," Baez told GMA. "Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished."
When Baez and his mother first immigrated to the United States, he wanted to get a job in housekeeping to immediately help support his family.
However, once Baez started working at NYU Langone, he instantly felt connected to the medical field and worked his way up the ladder.
After working as a janitor, Baez got a job at the same hospital as a patient transporter, which meant he was responsible for taking patients to and from their rooms for surgeries and tests.
Soon after getting the job, he left to pursue a bachelor's degree at Hunter College. With his undergraduate degree, Baez became the first person in his family to graduate from college.
However, Baez knew he wasn’t done.
"While working [at NYU] with the nurses, I realized I wanted to be one of them," he said. "I learned how much they advocate for their patients and the passion they have for their job."
After applying to the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Baez entered an accelerated program that allowed him to graduate with a nursing degree in a mere 15 months.
"Our program is extremely rigorous," Natalya Pasklinsky, director of simulation learning at the college of nursing, told GMA. "Frank didn’t just kind of make the program, barely getting through. He flew through it with flying colors."
While Baez was a janitor, Pasklinsky worked as a nurse in the same unit and saw him work his way up to patient transporter.
Pasklinsky said she always admired how careful Baez was with the patients.
"The way he interacted with patients, to me showed a lot of compassion," she told GMA. "In my mind, he’s a star. I think he's going to be a fantastic nurse."
Now Baez, who graduated with a 3.6 GPA, is ready to tackle his next dream of becoming a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit.
"I was never an A student. I just studied a lot and worked a lot," he told GMA. "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."
"What I did was, I never gave up," Baez concluded.
Baez’s story has already been shared by nursing and medical associations across the country.
(Photo: ABC News)
TRENDING IN NEWS