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Edwin Torres has earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from the Decker School of Nursing. He will return to pursue his doctorate in nursing.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Commencement 2014 profile: Edwin Torres
May 12, 2014Tweet
Edwin Torres admitted that he did not know anything about Binghamton University when he attended high school in New York City. Not even where Binghamton was located.
But when Torres saw a booklet that listed Binghamton University as the top SUNY school, he told his guidance counselor that he had found his school.
“She said: ‘Edwin, that’s a very good school, but I want to make sure you have some safety schools – community colleges,’” he said. “I said: ‘I’m not going to a community college. If I don’t get into Binghamton, I’m not going to college.’”
Torres, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York at 13, applied to Binghamton University through the Educational Opportunity Program, entered in 2005 and received his undergraduate nursing degree in 2010. This month, Torres is earning his master’s degree in community health nurse practitioner from the Decker School of Nursing and will begin pursuing his doctorate in Decker in the fall.
The past nine years at Binghamton have been a study in perseverance and determination for Torres. He applied to Decker’s undergraduate program four times before being accepted.
“I think I still have some of the rejection letters at my house,” the 27-year-old said. “You cannot let a single event deter you from what you want to do.”
Torres’ medical ambitions developed when as a teen he took his grandmother to the New York Presbyterian Hospital emergency room after she dislocated her shoulder.
“Not one of the providers spoke Spanish,” Torres recalled. “New York Presbyterian is at 168th (Street), which is Washington Heights and is predominantly Latino. So I had to translate. I know there are providers who can speak Spanish, but there’s not enough.
“This country has been built on immigrants, so the (population) of Latinos will keep increasing. If the (medical) population doesn’t reflect the population it’s serving, it can be a huge disadvantage for the entire system.”
Torres learned about Decker and nursing during his summer EOP orientation from a fellow student named Orlando Harris, who is now receiving his nursing doctorate from the University of Rochester.
“(Harris) explained it to me and I thought: ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I like the holistic approach of nursing. I don’t regret going into nursing. If I had to do it all again, I would do it all over again.”
When Torres arrived at Decker, he discovered a family-like atmosphere with strong faculty support.
“They want you to understand the material, but they really want to help you,” he said. “Decker’s open-door policy helps students a lot. If I had to rate Decker on a scale of 1-10, I’d say it is a 10.”
Torres said he often turned to Sharon Bryant, associate professor in Decker, for support while pursuing his degrees.
“As the United States becomes more diverse, it is imperative that we have community health primary care nurse practitioners who are culturally competent to work with diverse communities,” Bryant said. “Edwin is such an individual. His community health capstone project created a diabetes health education program for Latino clients.”
Besides working on his diabetes research project, Torres has spent the past three years as a registered nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of New York City.
“The experience there solidified my hunger to get the master’s degree,” he said. “I saw that we have a great healthcare system, but we can do better managing the patient and in prevention.”
The Lenox Hill experience meant that Torres had to commute a couple times each week from New York City to Binghamton and back.
“I’ve driven and I’ve taken the bus. When I get my PhD, I want to bike from New York City to Binghamton,” he said with a laugh.
A highlight of Torres’ time at Binghamton was traveling to his native country for the Dominican Republic Community Health Program with Laura Terriquez-Kasey of Decker. Torres went as an undergraduate in 2010 and in 2013 as an instructor.
“Going to the Dominican Republic to provide care was special,” he said. “When you return as a provider, you get another view of the healthcare system. It was an eye-opener because they are working with what they have. Just because they are doing things differently doesn’t make it wrong – it is just different.”
Torres also has reached out to youth and young men in New York City and Binghamton about nursing.
“Edwin is committed to giving back to his community to help others who are coming up behind him,” Bryant said. “He came back to Binghamton (recently) to help the CSTEP program and the Men of Color Scholastic Society host fourth- and fifth-grade boys from Horace Mann Elementary School. When he told the students that he was a nurse, their eyes were as big as saucers, because they have never seen a male nurse before. He planted the seed that one of these boys might become a nurse in the future.”
“It’s nice to help people,” Torres said. “You are passing on what’s been given to you. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the great people I’ve met.”
Torres said he will likely work at Albert Einstein Medical Center in the Bronx as he pursues his doctorate in nursing science. He also will continue to work on diabetes research with Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Einstein.
Torres’ career goals include teaching, research and practicing at a clinic.
“I want to stay in practice because I want to serve the population,” he said. “I want to do research because what you learn in practice, you can implement in research. And I want to teach to pass it on to a new generation.”