Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Sunshine Gutierrez is baking her cake and eating it, too

Sunshine Gutierrez is on track to graduate from Rio Hondo College in Spring 2015 with a degree in Administration of Justice. Gutierrez is currently enrolled in 14 units and has an overall GPA of 3.53. She is also a mother of three and the proud owner of a growing cake business. This is not where she expected to be twenty one years ago.

“I never thought I’d go to college,” recalls Gutierrez, “I had my first daughter at fifteen and that took me out of high school.”

Then, thirteen years ago, fate stepped in and Gutierrez took a baking class. “I wanted to have a hobby where I could spend time with my three girls. They would help me decorate cakes that we would give to family and friends.”

This led to people ordering cakes and a business was born. “I’ve been running it as a business now for more than seven years. I have solid regular customers like the City of Hope and Duarte High School and my goal is to get a commercial facility so I can really grow my business.”

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Around the same time she started baking, Sunshine decided she needed to finish high school. “I applied myself and got my high school diploma in 2004. Not a GED, an actual high school diploma. It was just one of those things I needed to do.”

College was not on Sunshine’s radar. “I am the youngest of twelve, and none of us had gone to college. I was running a growing business, getting my girls through high school and into college, and taking care of my mother. College was not on my to-do list.”

Life was to suddenly change for Sunshine again. “Two things happened. My youngest daughter didn’t want to go to college, and my sister in law enrolled in college as an older adult. I was inspired to go to college and become a positive role model for my youngest girl.”

This meant other changes as well. “I had to cut back on the event planning side of my business and it also meant I had to start working part time. I’ve been averaging sixteen hours a week at a bakery for over a year now.”

There are now four students in Sunshine’s house. “My oldest is twenty-one and is at the University of Fullerton, the middle is nineteen and at Cal State Northridge, and I’m happy to say the youngest is seventeen and graduating Cal High. It looks like she will be going to Whittier College. And, of course, I’ll be graduating RHC in June. The two older girls are in the dorms but they are home on breaks.”

Sunshine is one of six recent recipients of a scholarship awarded by the Latina Leadership Network chapter at Rio Hondo. “I’m very grateful for their generosity. It’s people like them who have helped make college possible. I want to use my education to make a difference in my community.”

Taking care of her mother has also gotten more challenging. “My mom is 77 now and she was injured in a fall in 2014 that has required physical therapy. To add to that, she was hurt on a bus this year. I just need to focus harder to get her through this and keep up my grades.”

When asked what she wants to do with her life, Sunshine is sure about three things. “My girls are finishing college, my mother will get the care she needs, and I don’t want to settle. I can make a difference in my community with my education and I can have my own business.”

Sunshine makes incredible custom cakes for all occassions, but Quinceaneras and weddings are the top two. You can find her cakes on Facebook ( and Instagram. To learn more about her services, you can contact Sunshine at [email protected] or 562-754-2593.

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