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Ivy League school janitor graduates with honors

Refugee from former Yugoslavia takes 12 years to clean his way to degree from Columbia U By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' It's a special day for one Columbia University janitor: The 52-year-old immigrant graduated from the Ivy League school with honors.

It took Gac Filipaj (gahtz fee-LEEP'-eye) a dozen years to finish his courses in the classics while working full time.

First, he learned English after fleeing the civil war in his native Yugoslavia in 1992. An ethnic Albanian, he was afraid of being drafted into the Serb-led army.



After Sunday's ceremony, he'll return to his cleaning duties at Columbia. But he hopes to get a better job and go to graduate school.

His favorite subject is Seneca, the Roman philosopher and statesman whose letters Filipaj read in Latin.

The janitor still sends money home to his family, who are struggling on a farm in now independent Montenegro.


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