Healdsburg teen raising funds for college, one cheesecake at a time

Healdsburg teen Anamaria Morales is determined to bake her way into college. Morales has branded her baking endeavor “College Confectionista” and specializes in cheesecakes, which she hopes will help fund her future college studies in entrepreneurship and public relations.

“I’ve always loved creating things that are my own style and sharing what I make with people,” Morales said.

With the Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics showing the average price of tuition, room and board costs and overall fees at a four-year post-secondary institution increasing from $9,438 in 1980 to $23,872 in 2015, it is understandable that high school students such as Morales are getting creative with campaigns for college money.

“I started realizing how much college was going to cost and I knew I had to do something to start saving up,” Morales said.

Owner of Dolce Mia Soap Company in Graton, Jenny Mountjoy is a baker herself and understands the time and money that goes into a quality cake like the kind Morales is making.

“Anamaria is one of those bright shining stars that has the personality, tenacity and creativity to succeed in whatever she goes after,“ Mountjoy said. “As soon as she began marketing her new cheesecakes, I knew that I had to purchase one right away.”

Morales is from Healdsburg and attended West Side School as well as Healdsburg Junior High until her eighth grade year. As an avid soccer player who played for Santa Rosa United she became friends with twin sisters Emily and Madison Dean who were attending El Molino. Morales said the sisters encouraged her to join the support the soccer program at El Mo and Morales said she took the risk and transferred to the Forestville school.

Knowing only the Dean sisters in her freshman year, Morales said she is now the senior class president and the Homecoming Queen this year.

“Everyone I know at El Molino is genuinely, nice, caring and accepting,” Morales said. “I love it there.”

Although happy about her strategic move to El Molino, Morales said her heart and home are still in Healdsburg, which is where she first sowed the seeds of her entrepreneurial spirit. At the age of eight, Morales and a friend made greeting cards that they sold to people in the Healdsburg Plaza and to businesses in town such as  Mr. Moon’s.

“We also would go to the Plaza on Tuesday nights when they had music and we would go around with our cards in a basket to the people dancing or sitting listening to music,” she said. “We were just these little girls in sundresses and it was pretty hard to deny us.”

Baking and sports are two of her greatest passions and since she can’t currently raise money with her soccer skills, Morales said baking was the next best choice. With Pinterest as her favorite app on her phone, she said she often scrolls through the site searching for new recipes.

Morale had never made cheesecake before and decided to combine two recipes and add a secret ingredient. She fed it to her brother, who has an aversion to telling his sister that she is right. When he said it was really good, she gained confidence in knowing it was the kind of product she could use to fundraise for college.

Since the beginning of January, Morales has sold 15 cheesecakes and also has a Facebook page called College Confectionista, where she updates her followers on her new and creative cakes. She currently has a red velvet cheesecake for Valentine’s Day. Morales said in a perfect world cheesecakes would pay off her college tuition but her initial goal is to sell 30 cheesecakes a month.

Morales has applied to Brown University, Harvard, University of Southern California, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Oregon and Syracuse University. Morales said she chose schools based on their business programs but is open to all options.

“The way I see it is that if you are motivated enough and you have the support, then you will succeed, no matter if you go to Stanford or if you go to a JC,” Morales said. “If you have enough drive, I really think that’s enough.”

On top of everything else Morales is doing scholastically, she is also volunteering with promoting the Forestville Teen Clinic. She said business and marketing is part of her entrepreneurial appetite and she is happy to help the clinic with its mission.

Morales said the ingredients that she uses are all local and that it is important to her that people can read, understand and even pronounce the items that she uses. Cheesecakes cannot be done in a rush, she said and do need TLC to be made properly.

“I like that cheesecake is a laborious dessert,” Morales said. “And I like the idea that the profits are going towards education. At the end of the day, the money that people are paying is going to a better cause than other cheesecakes that are sold in West County.”

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