Not everyone goes to college as soon as they graduate high school. Some people enter the workforce right away, and that’s okay. For Frank Baez, he spent many years working as a janitor at New York University’s Langone Tisch Hospital.
Years later, he decided to return to school and earn a nursing degree. His inspirational story went viral after people learned Baez earned his nursing degree from NYU—the same institution he once worked as a janitor. As many people have said, this is a true “full circle” moment.
Not His Dream Job
Baez didn’t necessarily want to be a janitor after graduating from high school, but his options were limited. He moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic with his mother when he was 15 years old, and he could barely speak any English. He had to start working at NYU’s Langone Tisch Hospital because he had to support his family.
Baez spent his days cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms, and hallways. While working at the hospital, he discovered a passion for medicine. He eventually left his job as a janitor and started working as a patient transporter, in which he would take patients to and from their rooms for various surgeries and medical tests.
However, this wasn’t enough for Baez. He soon realized he wanted to attend college and work on a degree in nursing. He met several nurses at the hospital, and he admired their work. “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.”
Working On His Degree
Baez pursued a bachelor’s degree at Hunter College, becoming the first college graduate in his family. Afterward, he was encouraged by his nursing friends to apply to NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He entered an accelerated nursing program, which allowed him to earn his degree in just 15 months.
It was a rigorous program. Baez spent long hours studying and learning how to become the best nurse possible. Natalya Pasklinsky, director of simulation learning, was impressed with Baez’s work ethic. She commented, “Frank didn’t just kind of make the program, barely getting through. He flew through it with flying colors.”
Pasklinsky already knew Baez from when he was a janitor at the school’s hospital. She watched him work as a janitor, then as a patient transporter, and now a nurse. She always believed in his abilities in the medical profession. “The way he interacted with patients to me showed a lot of compassion,” Pasklinsky said. “In my mind, he’s a star. I think he’s going to be a fantastic nurse.”
Baez graduated with his nursing degree with a 3.6 GPA and he hopes to work as a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit. He commented, “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’s unique story has inspired others on social media. Twitter users were impressed that Baez earned a nursing degree from the same hospital and school where he once worked. One user (@rjblankenship) tweeted, “I just can’t ‘like’ this enough! Congratulations and on behalf of the patients and families who you will treat, thank you!” Another user (@1way4u) said, “Great to see that there are opportunities in America for those who want to work hard to achieve their dream. Great story!”
Finally, user (@UnivPitt90) commented, “Awesome! Congrats, Frank. You are the essence of the American Dream. Now go forth and do good things.” We’re confident Baez will do great things as a nurse. He has the passion. He’s well on his way to inspiring others every day.
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