Like many seniors across the country, students at the Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management in New York City are missing out on graduation.
But even with their school shut down due to COVID-19, they found ways to thrive and finish up the last few months of their school year in quarantine even as the pandemic hit close to home.
"People have been sick, people have lost family members, but they're still online, trying to get their work done," UASEM teacher Sal Puglisi told "Good Morning America."
The class of 2020 at UASEM is especially unique because 29 students of the 58 graduating seniors are becoming certified emergency medical technicians, who will be stepping up to serve their communities during these challenging times.
For Josue Nieves, a graduating senior, his drive to become an EMT is fueled by his desire to improve emergency response times in what he says are underserved communities, like the South Bronx, where he grew up.
"My motive has always been to give back to my community, and make it better and to make a change -- this is going to be my chance," he said. "I want to help so response time is better so we can save more lives."
29 graduating students at the Urban Assembly School of Emergency Management are ready to serve on the front lines as EMTs! pic.twitter.com/d529cZaRi3— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 15, 2020
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nieves, whose mother is also currently serving the community as a health care worker, has been inspired more than ever to be on the front lines and serve alongside her as an EMT worker.
"As another member of the health community she knows that it comes with a risk and I've always seen her work hard her entire life," Nieves told "GMA." "She knows it's my time to shine. She's helping me push forward and she's proud of me."
His classmate, Amado Toledo, who also took EMT classes and will be getting certified upon graduation, feels the same way about giving back to his community.
"I think the pandemic has actually emboldened me," said Toledo. "I get furious I can't be out there; I want to be doing it."