Local Tik-Tok creator surprises City College student with $10K

Jesus Morales, a.k.a. Juixxe, surprised Destinee Pham in campus cafeteria


City College student Destinee Pham (right), pictured with Tik-Tok creator Jesus Morales (left) and NextUp coordinator and counselor Selam Gebrekristos (center), reacts to a $10,000 cash surprise on Dec. 7. Photo by Sophia Traylor/City Times Media

Sophia Traylor, Multimedia Journalist

With her face turning red, her breaths heavy and her chest rising and falling slowly, Destinee Pham clutched the table in the San Diego City College cafeteria as reality set in.

She was just handed $10,000 by local Tik-Tok creator Jesus Morales, also known by his handle Juixxe, through a brand deal with Mexican soda brand Sidral Mundet.

Pham was still in shock later.

“I don’t know why, but I’m having imposter syndrome,” she said. “Are you sure it’s me? Destinee?”


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A post shared by Jesús Morales (@juixxe)

One person who was certain was NextUp coordinator and counselor Selam Gebrekristos, who described Pham as humble.

“She’s amazing but doesn’t really see how amazing she is,” Gebrekristos said.

The surprise was weeks in the making after Morales reached out to City College Vice President of Student Services Marciano Perez, who with help from Gebrekristos, nominated Pham.

Sidral Mundet then had the final say in the student selection process. 

NextUp is a supplemental program that is part of San Diego City College’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, which supports the educational goals and well-being of current and former foster youth. 

Gebrekristos emphasized that Pham was selected based on how exceptionally hard-working and kind she is.

“She really cares about helping people,” Gebrekristos said, adding “it’s more of how wonderful she is as a human, period, not just because she’s a former foster youth.”

Pham is majoring in Philosophy and Cognitive Science with plans to transfer to UCSD. She has a 3.9 GPA, works two jobs as a server and wine & cheese specialist along with owning her own business, Strawbaby Desserts.

As a former foster youth, Pham faced difficulties she says fueled her.

“It’s making me bigger and brighter,” she said. 

While working toward her educational goals, Pham also wants to mentor other foster youth.

“I’ve been planting the seed since I was 16 years old,” she said. “I always knew I was going to be a mentor, someone that anyone could look up to, especially adolescents because that’s the time people need each other the most.

“I’m proud to be a former foster youth. I want to be that positive light,” Pham said. 

Morales got his start on Tik-Tok making funny videos until that no longer brought him joy.

“I saw other creators on Tik-Tok using their platforms for good, whether it was giving back to the homeless community, helping people build homes or just giving tips to service workers. … I thought ‘I wish I could do that,’” he said. 

Morales’ large following began after withdrawing $100 from his personal bank account to tip a local street vendor. Donations would soon get larger until he reached a staple of $1,000 for each vendor with a total of $300,000 given.

He has built his brand large enough to do more than help the vendor community. With brand deals like Intel and Amazon, he has given laptops as well as gift cards to lucky students at City College.