Success Stories

For His Freedom

He served in the war fighting for South Vietnam. When he was 25 years old he escaped North Vietnam, spending a week hiding on a boat, bus, and train. During the next 2 years he spent time in prison and later sent to a refugee camp and eventually to the United States. He’s been in Omaha 30 years learning the language and customs on his own.

At 56 he found the Literacy Center through a friend and has been here for a year. He understands the need to communicate – not just for him to understand others but for others to understand what he is saying.

It’s hard work but he knows it’s time to really get his freedom – through education – something nobody can take away from him.

Try and Try Again



Most importantly, my grandkids need to know that it can be done – if you try hard enough.

An Honest Man

Michael joined the Ringling Brother’s Circus when he was 18 – he lived on the train – every kid’s dream. He was a quick learner, the top seller of cotton candy and quickly earned his own route. When he met his wife it was time to leave the circus to start a family.

Since then he’s been in and out of jobs and knew that some employers wouldn’t even look at him because he’d never finished high school. He also refused to lie about it – he’s an honest man. Eventually he ended up on public assistance and was given the opportunity to finish his GED.

On January 23rd he walked across the stage in his cap and gown to receive his diploma. On January 25th he put his suit on (with the awesome Elvis tie), thanked the staff of the Literacy Center, got the job he wanted for over 20 years (that day), and loves it!

Loving Learning

During her junior year of high school she was frustrated, thought she could make it on her own, and would do better just getting a job instead of finishing school.

Four years later, at 22, she realized she couldn’t get a job that would pay her bills, struggled understanding menus, and was upset that she couldn’t fully talk with her friends about their careers.

It was time to do something different.

After failing the entrance exam to other GED programs, she found the Literacy Center. She’s been here for 4 months and believes she can finish her GED in 6 months. (We know she can!)

She’s not quite sure what she wants to do when she graduates because she thinks everything sounds interesting and possible; all she knows is that she wants to keep going to school and learning!

Because George Could Do It

At 10 years old Madeline’s first priority became not about school, but to stay safe and to stay away from her mother’s boyfriend. From the ages of ten to about thirteen, she would spend nights at friends’ houses, on the streets, homeless.

She knows she went to fifth grade, struggled in sixth grade, and flunked eighth grade. By the time she was in ninth grade, she dropped out of school.

It wasn’t until she was in her late forties, when she was 46, when Madeline had a life changing experience. A car accident injured her neck and back and she was not able to work. While watching Oprah, she saw the story of George Dawson, a man who at the age of 98 was determined to learn how to read. George had never been to school, but was determined to learn.

She knew if George could do it, so could she.

Motivation Moves Mountains

Debra stopped going to school in 8th grade but never lost sight of the value of education for her own children.

And now that her children need help with homework, she’s realized it’s time to go back to school. Debra comes every day and is determined to show her kids a better way. She tested at a 2nd grade level in April 2013 and is now ready to take her final GED test.

She wants to be a nurse.