Another SOS Center GED Success Story

May 5, 2012

This is the first part of a series of interviews of the SOS Center’s success stories with their GED program.

Mr. Cameron Barnes, a 32-year-old Milwaukee area man, recently received his GED after only 8 months.

What brought you here?
It’s really convenient. I’m right around the neighborhood, it’s close to home, its’ free. It was perfect. I tried MATC before I tried to go here, I tried literacy services on 27th and Wells, tried that, this is the best I’ve ever attended I even did home school, where I had to pay money monthly to get the tests and everything. I had to send them in, get a score. It was nerve-racking. Sometimes you didn’t get your scores for weeks - it was by mail. You couldn’t move on when you wanted to, you couldn’t work at your own pace. It was more time consuming. I was paying like 30 or 40 bucks a month. I needed more money for rent, things like that so I had to stop it.

What was your situation before you came?
More specifically, why didn’t High School work the first time? Why did you find a need to have your GED this time? Have you tried to get your GED before?
I was trying to find a good stable job. I was working security. I did order-picking and warehouse work, shipping and receiving, working a lot of different jobs, just trying to keep the bills paid. I always wanted to come back to school, but I was so busy surviving it wasn’t working. I even had to leave town a few times for work. Sacramento, Cincinnati, Mississippi. I tried all sorts of things. And I’m just trying to do the best by my daughter.

Why didn’t it work the first time?
Why’d I drop out? Man, 16, I was on my own, my grandma left me, I was supposed to be with my uncle, but I was all alone at 16, I tried school, but I couldn’t stay focused, I didn’t’ have a place to stay, it was just survival. l got a full time job. It was about survival. Being 16 on your own, it was weird. My grandma was taking care of a bunch of us, she had ten grandchildren, I was the oldest one, and I knew she couldn’t handle it all, so I stayed in Milwaukee when she moved to Mississippi. Thought it would be best at the time – I had a teacher who was trying to help me in middle school, but he didn’t really want me to stay with my family, so I left him. I didn’t want him to have that control over my life. Been on my own since I was sixteen. Then I got a girlfriend, and now I have a daughter.

What happened at the SOS Center that helped you succeed?
I had the support, I could work at my own pace, and I could come in early, leave late, be here every day, or come one day. It was so about me, I could see how much work I put into it, I could see the change in myself, and I saw the difference fast. Literacy services had me do tests, but I never saw myself getting better. But here I can definitely see the progress.

What made you choose the SOS Center program over other programs?
The teachers tend to the students very well, it’s not overcrowded, It s laid back, it’s not loud here, people aren’t arguing. It seems like you’re studying at home. It was right for me.

Do you have any advice for future students?
Wow. Just stay motivated. Keep going even when it seems hard and it’s driving you crazy. Just keep at it, the more you keep at it the easier it gets. I didn’t know that right away. I can’t believe I got through the math. Just doing that made me feel a lot better. I didn’t think I could do it. I don’t doubt myself anymore. I am more confident in what I can do.

What is your plan for the future?
Going back to school again and trying to get a degree. My associates degree, and place myself in a job or career that can make some money. I want to put myself in a better position than I have been. I have a baby now, so I need more money. I just really want to be the best that I can be for her.

About the SOS Center
For Over 30 Years, the SOS Center of Milwaukee has been helping thousands of families’ lead better lives. In December 1982, Ken and Arlene Greve launched the SOS Center out of a single store front room at 3742 West North Avenue in Milwaukee. Their goal was to reach out to anyone that came looking for help. Inspired by Christ’s compassion for the troubled and struggling, the Greves quickly recognized the need for educational opportunities. Supported by volunteers, the Greves initiated multiple life-changing tutorial programs, many of which continue today. In 1992, the SOS Center moved to a larger facility at 4620 West North Avenue. This larger location provided greater opportunities for free community programs and services.

Mission of the SOS Center
The SOS Center is a nonprofit social service agency providing Christian care, educational instruction and life skills activities for children and adults in the Milwaukee area.

For further information on other SOS Center success stories, please contact Jodi Kessel Lyon, Executive Director of the SOS Center at (414) 449-9964 or to go to

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