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Columbia University janitor cleans up with bachelor's degree
Los Angeles Times ^ | 14 May 2012 | Staff

Posted on 05/14/2012 3:20:56 AM PDT by bjorn14

NEW YORK— For years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out the trash at Columbia University.

A refugee from war-torn Yugoslavia, he eked out a living at the Ivy League school. But Sunday was payback time: The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics.

As a Columbia employee, his classes were free. His favorite subject was the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca, he said during a break from his work at Lerner Hall, the student union building he cleans.

"I love Seneca's letters because they're written in the spirit in which I was educated in my family: not to look for fame and fortune, but to have a simple, honest, honorable life," he said.

His graduation with honors capped a dozen years of study, including readings in ancient Latin and Greek.

"This is a man with great pride, whether he's doing custodial work or academics," said Peter Awn, dean of Columbia's School of General Studies and professor of Islamic studies. "He is immensely humble and grateful, but he's one individual who makes his own future."

Filipaj, now an American citizen, was accepted at Columbia after learning English. His mother tongue is Albanian.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: columbia; education
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The American Dream fulfilled
1 posted on 05/14/2012 3:20:59 AM PDT by bjorn14
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To: bjorn14

Indeed: A Bachelors Degree in the Classics should get him out of the toilets.


2 posted on 05/14/2012 3:28:50 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: bjorn14

To finish his degree is an amazing accomplishment and we should not be looking down at him. Unfortunately he pursued a degree that unless the college decides to make him a professor, his only other option will to be stay on as a janitor - a highly educated janitor, but a janitor none the less.


3 posted on 05/14/2012 3:47:00 AM PDT by Infralutheran
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To: bjorn14

Good for him!


4 posted on 05/14/2012 3:55:31 AM PDT by sneakers (Go Sheriff Joe!)
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To: Venturer

Dude.. he was a janitor. I give the guy kudos no matter what his degree. What’s your degree in??


5 posted on 05/14/2012 3:56:58 AM PDT by goseminoles
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To: bjorn14

AMEN to him.


6 posted on 05/14/2012 4:01:53 AM PDT by bmwcyle (I am ready to serve Jesus on Earth because the GOP failed again)
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To: Infralutheran

Exactly. I’m glad he got a degree. But since his classes were FREE it might have been a better idea to get a degree in something that would get him a better job than being a janitor. Now he will be a janitor with a degree in a useless subject.


7 posted on 05/14/2012 4:07:50 AM PDT by shelterguy
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To: bjorn14

A degree in the “classics”?! Oh well. At least he actually works. Otherwise, I’d say we have a future OWS on our hands. He must like his janitor job a lot.


8 posted on 05/14/2012 4:20:59 AM PDT by albie
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To: Infralutheran

“Now, his ambition is to get a master’s degree, maybe even a doctorate, in Roman and Greek classics. He hopes to become a teacher, while translating his favorite classics into Albanian.”

You need to read the article.


9 posted on 05/14/2012 4:23:06 AM PDT by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: bjorn14

The article is incorrect in one way. It says he got his degree for free. That is not entirely true. He had to declare every class he took as regular income at the rate Columbia would have charged a cash paying student. He paid Social Security and Medicare at a minimum, and probably some local, state and federal income tax as well.

There isn’t much of a call for employees with a Classics degree, but... He now has a good command of a few languages, a strong work ethic, American citizenship and a college degree. Even if he stays at Columbia, he should be moved up to supervisor/management in the very near future.

To me, he sounds like a perfect candidate to open his own business and become one of the one percent.


10 posted on 05/14/2012 4:32:58 AM PDT by Poser (Cogito ergo Spam - I think, therefore I ham)
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To: goseminoles

LOL I have no degree, except in the school of hard knocks.

I think it’s great that this guy earned a degree, but I also think he should have gotten it in some subject that would get him out of the toilets.

I don’t see a great job demand for Bachelors Degrees in the Classics.

I wish the guy the best.


11 posted on 05/14/2012 4:42:49 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: shelterguy
it might have been a better idea to get a degree in something that would get him a better job than being a janitor.

Why? Never judge a man by the profession he chooses or the money in his pocket........

It's obvious that Mr. Filipaj derives his happiness from less materialistic things.

12 posted on 05/14/2012 4:46:53 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (My 6 pack abs are now a full keg......)
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To: Venturer

Yeah.. I have 4 degrees.. doesn’t mean much.. life’s a bitch. I give the guy credit!!


13 posted on 05/14/2012 4:49:35 AM PDT by goseminoles
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To: bjorn14

The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in classics.

You are 52 years old you are getting a free education and you choose a degree in classics?
Okay so you can now stop cleaning toilets and maybe manage a McDonalds!


14 posted on 05/14/2012 4:52:47 AM PDT by SECURE AMERICA (Where can I sign up for the New American Revolution and the Crusades 2012?)
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To: bjorn14

I love his attitude. He wants to live a life that is humble and honorable. He takes pride in his profession. I respect that a lot.


15 posted on 05/14/2012 4:56:15 AM PDT by Dragonspirit (Always remember President Token won only by defecting on his CFR pledge.)
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Why hateful against a college education?? Naysayer..


16 posted on 05/14/2012 5:02:27 AM PDT by goseminoles
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To: Hot Tabasco
It's obvious that Mr. Filipaj derives his happiness from less materialistic things.

Well said.

Anyone with a job that allows him the opportunity to educate himself is rich indeed.
17 posted on 05/14/2012 5:05:33 AM PDT by LearsFool ("Thou shouldst not have been old, till thou hadst been wise.")
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To: GatĂșn(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)

Naw,we’d rather make moronic comments instead!


18 posted on 05/14/2012 5:16:32 AM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: bjorn14
He hopes to become a teacher, while translating his favorite classics into Albanian.

Well done, Mr. Filipaj.

I hope that you are able to fulfill your dreams of scholarship and passing this knowledge on to future generations.

19 posted on 05/14/2012 5:17:02 AM PDT by snowsislander (Please, America, no more dog-eating Kenyan cokeheads in the Oval Office.)
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To: bjorn14

Probably the only useful and worthy graduate of Columbia in years.


20 posted on 05/14/2012 5:17:02 AM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm for Churchill in 1940!)
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