Dream Comes True for New Nursing Graduate: From Janitor to BSN at NYU

Persistence and hard work paid off for Frank Baez who recently graduated as a nurse with flying colors. Many nurses have graduated over the past few weeks, but Baez’s story has that inspirational dream-come-true quality.

Over the course of just more than a decade, Baez’s career progressed from a janitor, who could hardly speak English, to a BSN – and at the same university.

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Baez, now 29, came from the Dominican Republic with his mother when he was 15 years old. At age 17 he took a weekend job as a janitor at New York University’s Langone Tisch Hospital to help support his family – cleaning passages, bathrooms, and patient rooms.

Eventually, Baez was working as a patient transporter. He described how, at the time, he admired the nurses for their advocacy role and passion for their job – wishing he could be one of them. Nurses who worked with him at the hospital recall that even then he was always asking questions and showing a lot of compassion while interacting with patients.

Baez left his job at the hospital to complete his Bachelor’s degree at Hunter’s College with Spanish Literature as his major and biological science as a minor subject.  He became the first member of his family to graduate but he knew he wanted to get back into health care at NYU.

He was appointed as a unit clerk at Langone Orthopedic Hospital and it was here that his nurse colleagues encouraged him to apply to NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He was admitted to an accelerated BSN program. He attended classes from 8:00 to 14:00 and then rushed to his job as a unit clerk working from 15:00 to 23:00.  He only changed to working part-time in his during his final semester.

Despite this rigorous schedule, Baez completed his nursing degree within 15 months with a GPA of 3.6. “If you work hard and you have discipline, and you want something, you should always go for it,” explained Baez. “Never give up on your dreams. Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished.”

Baez is now preparing for his NCLEX-RN exam and hopes that he’ll get a nursing position at NYU Langone.  He’s also not finished with studying yet, planning to apply for admission to a master’s program in critical care nursing.

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