A Stranger’s $50 Tip And Advice Convinced This Philly Bakery Worker To Return To College

By Susan Snyder
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Anyssa El Manfaa is one of 61 students nationwide to receive a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which will largely pay for her to continue on for her bachelor’s degree. She says she was inspired to chase her dreams after a chance meeting with a stranger.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

It was busy in the South Philadelphia bakery on an early Autumn day in 2016. The phone was ringing incessantly. There were cakes that needed boxing, a cookie table that needed constant restocking. A convention of students, scholars, and scientists in town was fueling the surge in business.

In her uniform and apron, Anyssa El Manfaa was busily filling orders, yet finding herself drawn into the intellectual conversation around her.

A seemingly 50-something customer, whose university-age son was presenting at the convention, approached the counter and ordered a cake. As El Manfaa boxed it, they began chatting about quantum mechanics and the concept of infinity. The conversation so excited her that she almost wrapped her finger in a ribbon she was tying around the cake.

“You know what, kid?” the man told her, “if you had gone to school for this stuff … you could have a lot more conversations like this one.”

He had no idea El Manfaa lost her Moroccan father to deportation when she was 4, that she began working at age 13 to help her mother and two younger siblings, that she was bullied in school, or that she had tried college once and couldn’t handle it while juggling two jobs. All he saw was the promise in her.

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