May 17-23, 2002
Back Issues
Speaking on the Lawn
Reserve a 2002 graduation video
Finding cultural identity in deafness and teaching
Six students get grad school boost

Collins takes on international human rights

Student first at U.Va. to win Scottish fellowship
Sullivan Award winners honored
Healing, unity student’s passions
Award also goes to faculty member
Graduates have been pillars of U.Va. student self-governance
College is time of spiritual, intellectual growth
Adult degree program graduates first students
Graduation: Did you know?
Nursing student answers
9-11 call
Students will have their day in the sun
Graduate rallies volunteers to bring arts to schools
Fifteen dozen cookies and a law degree
Wise student aspires to career helping students in higher ed
The beauty of Antarctica beckons, but graduate’s passion is teaching

Nursing student answers 9-11 call

William J. Foronjy Jr.
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
William J. Foronjy Jr.

By Katherine Jackson

William Joseph Foronjy Jr. had a big celebration planned for Sept. 11. It was his 30th birthday, and he was planning a night of serious partying with friends.

But that all changed. Word from family and friends in New York caught up in the chaos of the terrorist attacks led him to a night of cursing and crying.

Foronjy, from Long Island, will graduate from the School of Nursing on May 19 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a renewed passion for helping people.

“I was working with patients at Western State Hospital when I heard about the attacks. While watching the tragedy unfold on television, family members called.

My four cousins — all brothers, all New York firefighters — entered the World Trade Center. It collapsed. One brother, Timmy, was missing. Ten days later, the brothers carried Timmy’s flag-draped body from the wreckage.”

The outpouring of support and encouragement by faculty, staff and fellow students helped Foronjy to keep up with his demanding nursing school curriculum. “As I struggled through my grief, teachers responded, when appropriate, with hugs.

Several days after the attacks, I was so freaked out that I was barely able to move. Unable to continue my rounds, I was given time off,” he said.

“Timmy had given his life. The least I could do would be to drive to New York to help. For three days, pulling 12-hour shifts, I assisted inhalation and grief-stricken patients at New York University hospital. In between shifts, I lit candles in memory of lost Americans.”

Foronjy always wanted to help people. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from State University of New York–Oneonta with plans to teach. He quickly realized four years of college does not necessarily provide students with the tools to instill lifelong learning in others.

“I needed more education. After my cousin Vinnie graduated from law school, my mother said, ‘Billy you are a great talker, go to law school.’

“I chose not to seek a career in law eventually because I saw no quality time with people,” he said.

Foronjy was admitted to the Nursing School’s second-degree program in September 2000. The two-year program offers a special bachelor of science in nursing degree for non-nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree in another area.

After graduation, he will have completed his two-year educational leave from the military. He then plans to complete active duty at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington.

Inspired by firefighters and others at Ground Zero in New York — and supportive faculty and staff at U.Va. — Foronjy plans to return to U.Va. to pursue a nursing career.

“As a nurse, I am interested in more than financial gains. I am interested in physical and emotional growth and improvement of health.”


© Copyright 2002 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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