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Thread: Inspirational - Janitor graduates from Columbia after 20 years of classes

  1. #1
    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    Default Inspirational - Janitor graduates from Columbia after 20 years of classes

    Wow!!!

    Custodian cleans up*for classics degree*at Columbia* - NY Daily News



    IT TOOK ALMOST 20 years, but this weekend a Columbia University custodian will put down his broom and dustpan just long enough to collect his sheepskin.

    Gac Filipaj, 52, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, toiled day and night to earn a bachelor’s degree in classics — with honors, no less.

    And even though he spent nearly two decades in school — taking one or two classes a semester — he’s not finished with higher education.

    “Only half my dream came true,” Filipaj said. “Today, one ought to have a master’s or a Ph.D.”

    Filipaj said he hopes to go to grad school now.

    “He better!” said Phil Mendoza, the assistant dean of students. “He just loves what he’s learning.”

    Leaving behind his parents and siblings in his war-torn homeland, Filipaj fled to the U.S. in 1992, speaking barely a word of English.

    A language tutor suggested he try to get a job at Columbia so he could take tuition-free courses, and he scored a cleaning gig.

    He spent several years taking English proficiency classes, then enrolled in the School of General Studies in 2000.

    He had to complete the Ivy League school’s rigorous core curriculum, then decided on classics — not a major known for easy As.

    The bachelor would take classes in the morning, work from 2:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and then trek home to the Bronx to study.

    “I had some very difficult moments,” he said. “Some days, I was so tired.”

    His professors all knew what his day job was, but he would chuckle at the sometimes surprised faces of classmates who ran into him while he was pushing a broom.

    He said he didn’t pursue other jobs because he didn’t want to give up his tuition benefit until he finally had a diploma.

    On Sunday, he’ll get it at the school’s graduation. Three days later, he’ll join hundreds of other students at the university-wide commencement.

    He took two vacation days for the festivities. Then, he said, it’s back to work.

    “I think I’m going to stay at Columbia. If I can get a job better than cleaning, good. If not, there is nothing shameful about that work.”

    He was a bit sheepish that Columbia has made a fuss about his graduation, but thought it might inspire someone like him.

    “If my story and the fact at this age I am graduating helps people to think about getting an education, it’s for a good cause,” he said. tconnor@nydailynews.com


    Read more: Custodian cleans up*for classics degree*at Columbia* - NY Daily News
    Last edited by sluce; May 9th, 2012 at 07:44 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Good for him!! This story gave me the warm fuzzies.
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  3. #3
    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    This guy kicks ass. Good for him.
    Sojiita likes this.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    This was just on NBC Nightly News! Great story.
    Sojiita likes this.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    aw. i'm getting choked up. what a dedicated man.
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    what a great story! wonderful man
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    Elite Member chartreuse's Avatar
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    awww, that's so awesome!
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    white, black, puerto rican/everybody just a freakin'/good times were rollin'.


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    Elite Member angelais's Avatar
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    Rock on! That is so cool!
    Sojiita likes this.
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  9. #9
    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    aw. i'm getting choked up. what a dedicated man.
    seriously, me too.

    especially this:

    “If my story and the fact at this age I am graduating helps people to think about getting an education, it’s for a good cause,”
    I am starting nursing school full time on June 4th right before I turn 49. This is the kind of story people like me need to hear! Bless his heart.

    I hope the publicity about this does lead him to a better job and life.
    sluce and Lenny like this.

  10. #10
    Elite Member whitetigeress's Avatar
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    Gac Filipaj, 52, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia,

    Booya! Good for him!
    I just want to cry. Yes, warm fuzzies all around.

    Best of luck to you Sojita! You'll do it!
    Sojiita likes this.

  11. #11
    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Best story I've heard in awhile! All sorts of awesomeness. Make this guy a Dean for pete's sake!

    And good luck Soj!!!!!!!
    Sojiita likes this.

  12. #12
    Elite Member chartreuse's Avatar
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    that is wonderful, sojii...so proud of you! best of luck!
    white, black, puerto rican/everybody just a freakin'/good times were rollin'.


  13. #13
    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    Great story and a great man. :d

    Good luck Soj!

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