NEW YORK - Frank Baez began working as a janitor at New York University's Tisch Hospital, cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms and hallways when he was a teenager. Now he's graduating from the school's nursing program.
"Now I see the hard work is paying off, and it feels rewarding, it feels refreshing, it's indescribable," said Baez.
The 29-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic got his nursing degree from NYU's Rory Meyers College of Nursing this week, after finishing an accelerated 15-month program.
Baez said he was inspired by the care and work his fellow nurses provided their patients. "I was inspired to follow their lead, and that's why I wanted to be a nurse."
Baez started working as a housekeeper at NYU Langone's hospital in 2006 while finishing high school in Brooklyn, learning English, and working part-time to support his family.
After getting an associate's degree from Hunter College, Baez got a job as a unit clerk at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital's special care unit, responsible for transferring patients after surgery.
Baez continued to work at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital where he also juggled his 15-month nursing program before graduating with a 3.6 GPA. Baez was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
"I didn't think I was going to be part of the team one day, but I can tell you today that I will be tomorrow, that's for sure," Baez said.
Baez has begun coursework toward a master's degree in hopes of becoming an acute care nurse practitioner.
"Hard work pays off at some point in time. If you work hard and have discipline, and you want something, you should always go for it. Never give up on your dreams," said Baez.