Meet Gac Filipaj: The Columbia Janitor Who Worked Relentlessly For His Ivy League Degree
Every college graduate has embarked on a particularly difficult path to get where they are, but few have a story like that of 52-year-old Columbia University graduate Gac Filipaj.
Filipaj was born in Yugoslavia, a country that became a warzone in the early 90s. He could either fight for a cause he didn't believe in or flee.
Filipaj escaped to New York and got a job cleaning bathrooms. But these bathrooms weren't just in any random building. Filipaj became a janitor at Columbia University, a job he probably wouldn't have taken if it didn't come with 14 free credit hours a year.
But he first had to learn English before beginning his education, a task that took 7 years while working a full-time job. He then enrolled in Columbia's prestigious classics program, studying Greek and Latin during the day and returning to his custodial duties at night.
12 more years of work then study ,and Filipaj has graduated from one of the most respected schools in the country. He told CBS that he plans to be come a teacher, first getting his Masters and then maybe even a PhD.