Gac Filipaj, janitor and now Columbia graduate

A friend of mine questioned me the significance of a janitor from Columbia University, Gac Filipaj, who graduated with a Bachelor degree in Classics after taking 14 credits per year in the morning while holding his full time job in the afternoon into the wee hours in the morning.

custodian Gac Filipaj  at work

custodian Gac Filipaj at work

It’s inspirational because he presevered and took advantaged of free tuition offered to employeees and studied over a span of twelve years. A decade to finish this academic project, how could one not paying any respect!

Gac Filipaj congratulated by boss

Gac Filipaj congratulated by boss

I also read from from news sources that he was making US$28 an hour. Two things came to my mind immediately for comparaison. Firstly, in Hong Kong employeers and business owners bitched about how the minimum wage, implemented since May 2011, hurt their businesses. While I don’t know the exact minimum wage in New York, probably 9 or 10 US$, HK’s stands at less than US$4 (HK$28). Secondly, I recall student newspaper of City University of Hong Kong documented the Uni’s practice of moving a three-shift (8 hour each) day to a two-shift (12 hour each) arrangements for security guards. That compounded with the fact that another university outsourced the sanitation work to save money, make me think and rethink progress or the lack of in various industrialized economies. Sure there are people living in poverty, but Hong Kong businesses have some learning to catch up in treating the lower-paid employees.

Filipaj among graduates

Filipaj among graduates

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