Man graduates as nurse from the same university where he started as a janitor

Man graduates as nurse from the same university where he started as a janitor

He may have been cleaning the premises as a janitor at university, but Frankie Baez had his sights set on a much bigger prize.

Moving to New York as a teenager from the Dominican Republic with his mother, Baez got a job at NYU cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms, and hallways so he could help to financially support his family, but now aged 29, he's been able to graduate from that same university as a registered nurse.

"I could barely speak English at the time when I started working at NYU," admitted Baez, who immediately fell in love with the medical field having been exposed to it a little bit. "Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished."

Frankie Baez Credit: Frankie Baez

Initially, he got a job as a patient transporter - moving patients to and from tests and surgeries - but eventually had to leave that job so he could become the first person from his family to graduate from college, getting a degree from Hunter College. But Baez always had his sights on returning at some point to NYU.

"While working [at NYU] with the nurses, I realized I wanted to be one of them," Baez explained.

"I learned how much they advocate for their patients and the passion they have for their job." Those nurses convinced Baez to apply to the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, where he was able to take on an accelerated 15-month degree."

Frankie Baez Credit: Frankie Baez

Natalya Pasklinsky, director of simulation learning at the college of nursing, was a nurse when Baez was little more than a lowly janitor, but even then, she could recall just how great he was with patients, and says he's got a bright future as a nurse.

"Our program is extremely rigorous. Frank didn’t just kind of make the program, barely getting through. He flew through it with flying colors. 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."

But for Frankie Baez, the journey doesn't stop here - now he's a trained nurse, he's got his sights set on becoming a critical care nurse at an intensive care unit. "I was never an A student. I just studied a lot and worked a lot," he said.

"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."

Frankie Baez graduation Credit: NYU

"What I did was, I never gave up," added Baez.