Nursing Graduate Turns Grief To Renewed Commitment
May 6, 2002-- 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.
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
from Long Island, New York, will graduate from the University of
Virginia School of Nursing on May 19 with a bachelors degree
in nursing and a renewed passion for helping people.
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
Timmys flag-draped body from the wreckage."
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.
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."
has been greatly affected by friends and colleagues in Charlottesville
and, of course, those in New York. "My faith in the goodness
of people has been affirmed."
always wanted to help people. He earned a bachelors degree
in English from State University of New YorkOneonta with plans
to teach. He quickly realized four years of college does not provide
students the tools to instill lifelong learning in others.
needed more education. After my cousin Vinnie graduated from law
school, my mother said, Billy you are a great talker, go to
was interested in law because I could argue and talk and win,"
Foronjy said. "I chose not to seek a career in law eventually
because I saw no quality time with people.
I could not operate
in a me-first world."
was admitted to the U.Va. Nursing Schools 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 bachelors
degree in another area.
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.
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.
a nurse, I am interested in more than financial gains. I am interested
in physical and emotional growth and improvement of health."
Katherine Jackson, (434) 924-3629