Skip to comments.Columbia University janitor cleans up with bachelor's degree
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 ...
Indeed: A Bachelors Degree in the Classics should get him out of the toilets.
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.
Good for him!
Dude.. he was a janitor. I give the guy kudos no matter what his degree. What’s your degree in??
AMEN to him.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Yeah.. I have 4 degrees.. doesn’t mean much.. life’s a bitch. I give the guy credit!!
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!
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.
Why hateful against a college education?? Naysayer..
Naw,we’d rather make moronic comments instead!
Well done, Mr. Filipaj.
I hope that you are able to fulfill your dreams of scholarship and passing this knowledge on to future generations.
Probably the only useful and worthy graduate of Columbia in years.