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Janitor, War Refugee Earns Ivy League Degree

GacFilipaj 051412

A war refugee from Yugoslavia and janitor at Columbia University, Gac Filipaj, 52, graduated on Sunday with a well-earned Ivy League degree.

For years, Filipaj earned his living by cleaning toilets, wiping windows, mopping floors, and taking out trash at the prestigious university.

However, his job as a janitor at Columbia University had the perk of providing 14 free credit hours per semester. Filipaj took advantage of the free tuition and studied at night, often times pulling an all-nighter and heading to class in the mornings with his workshift to follow.

12 years after Filipaj began his classes at Columbia University, he graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor's degree in classics with plans to pursue a Master's degree in hopes of becoming a teacher.

Filipaj left Montenegro in 1992, then the Yugoslav republic in the midst of brutal civil war. The Albanian and Roman Catholic had to leave family behind and sought refuge with his uncle who lived in New York.

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