Congrats are in order for Frank Baez. The 29-year-old native of the Dominican Republic recently graduated with a nursing degree from New York University (NYU) years after he worked there as a hospital janitor.
Baez, who migrated to the United States at 15, cleaned patient rooms, bathrooms and hallways when he was 17. According to Baez, he decided to get a job to help his mother provide for their family.
“I could barely speak English at the time when I started working at NYU,” he told Good Morning America. “Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished.”
His job at the hospital sparked an interest in the medical field and led to him applying for a position as a patient transporter.
Baez was the first person in his family to receive a college degree when received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature with a minor in biological sciences from Hunter College.
Once he earned his undergraduate degree, Baez went back to NYU as a unit clerk at the Langone Orthopedic Hospital. The nurses he worked with inspired him to enroll in the school’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing for an accelerated 15-month program.
“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.”
According to CNN, Baez worked full time during his first semester. He would attend class until about 2 p.m., change clothes and eat before beginning his work shift at 3 p.m. Once he finished work, he’d stay up late doing homework and preparing for the following day of class.
Boasting a 3.6 grade point average, Baez said, “I was never an A student. I just studied a lot and worked a lot.”
Despite his very busy schedule, he remained optimistic. “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 said.
After completing his licensing certifications, Baez plans to work as a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit.
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Jasmine Washington is a beauty-obsessed journalist by day and a trap music connoisseur by night. A lifelong New Yorker, she got her start as an intern at the now-defunct Juicy Magazine. Jasmine joined the EBONY.com team as a writer, penning daily stories on all things Black culture and entertainment.