Columbia University Janitor Earns Ivy Degree
We usually reserve our Case of the Mondays feature for people who are likely having a crappier Monday than you are. But today we’re throwing a curveball.
This weekend college students around the country celebrated graduation, thus saturating our precious workforce even further. That alone is enough to give you a case of the Mondays.
However, there is one graduate whose story is so inspiring, we have to share. 52-year-old Yugoslavia refugee Gac Filipaj earned his Ivy League diploma when he walked across Columbia’s stage. Here’s what makes his story all the more special:
For  years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out trash at Columbia University.
Because he’s an employee of Columbia, he did not have to pay to take classes. Talk about taking advantage of company benefits.
Obviously it wasn’t easy for Filipaj. He works a 2:30-11pm shift as a “heavy cleaner.” He would head home to the Bronx after work and attend to his second job: studying. When the work load would get heavy or he had an exam, he would pull an all nighter, hit up class and then knock down his day’s work, making $22/hour.
Filipaj’s struggle seems small compared to his life before emigrating. He was in the middle of a war zone, traveling 236 miles by train to Montenegro, where he was studying to be a lawyer. Right before he finished his studies, he was drafted into an army that considered Albanians their enemy. Filipaj is of Albanian descent.
Now an American citizen, Filipaj did it all without a computer or cell phone. Much of the money he makes is sent back to support his family. The dude is a grinder.
So if today seems extra tough, think about our boy Gac, who made “Good Will Hunting” a reality.
Have a good Monday.
And good luck to Filipaj, who earned a degree in “classics.” His best bet might be that $22/hour janitor job. The job market is killer these days…