Since he was about five or six, Daerenz Lyons has been interested in going into the food industry. His mother used to manage a restaurant and when they got home, Daerenz would help her cook. “I cook for my family all the time,” he said. “I have quote on quote specialties if you will. I can whip up a nice meatloaf or spaghetti.” His mother’s experience in the food business and his love for cooking, is what influenced Daerenz to aspire to become a restaurant owner. After graduating from high school, he plans to attend James Madison University and pursue a business degree while also minoring in entrepreneurship and taking culinary courses.
One chef that inspires Daerenz is Chef Gordon Ramsay. “Even though a lot of people didn’t, I just liked that he was kind of blunt,” he said. Outside of the culinary world, another big influence in his life is his mentor. Seeing his mentor, who works for the Department of Taxation, constantly moving up in his career is one way he influences Daerenz. “He’s always been there,” Daerenz said. “He went on my trip to James Madison and he sat with me through the sessions that I had and he was just talking to me, making sure it was what I wanted to do.” Daerenz appreciates his mentor for encouraging him to stay focused on his education.
While he is still in high school, Daerenz is the mayor of his school’s Student Government Association; a member of FBLA, Mu Alpha Theta, the Yearbook Club, the German Honor Society, the National Honor Society; and serves as a Student Ambassador. “Although it is not easy to balance all of these factors, I have done so while continuing to excel in my education,” Daerenz stated in an essay. In fact, Daerenz currently has a 4.1 GPA.
When he is not involved with his school organizations, in his free time, Daerenz loves to volunteer. He has volunteered with his church and with Randolph Community Center. At the community center, he supervises the children. “We have to educate the youth on just how to make a positive impact on society and not just go out there and do negative things,” Daerenz said about the lessons he’s learned through volunteer work. Another lesson that he will take with him to college is to manage his time.
The number one thing Daerenz wants the community to know about him is that he is a hard working person. “It all does pay off because I did just get the Altria scholarship. So just seeing the hard work that we put in over the last few years actually paid off.” Once he completes his education, he hopes to open his restaurant. Daerenz insists that guests won’t “get a more at-home feel than at my restaurant.” Besides accomplishing his education and career aspirations, his number one goal in life is to give back. He has worked hard in the past and plans to continue when he attends college. “I’d like to thank my mother,” Daerenz said. “For raising me the right way and even though I thought it was nagging at times, just always making sure I was on my P’s and Q’s.”