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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Serving up Eastern for more than 2 decades

Abraham Ortiz
Aaron DeRousse working in Stevenson Tower Dining Center. He has worked in the dining hall for 14 years and tries to make everyone’s day better, even if it is just by giving a smile.

The hustle and bustle of everyday life that many college students face can drastically dampen their moods. 

However, in the Stevenson Tower Dining Hall, there is a man who tries to make everyone’s day just a little bit better: Aaron DeRousse. 

DeRousse, a Charleston native, can be seen almost daily in the dining hall, preparing various breakfast items for students and chatting with them about events in their life. 

Whether the students realize it or not, they have a huge impact on DeRousse throughout the day. 

“The best part about being here is you guys,” DeRousse said. “You guys keep me young, and I really enjoy it.” 

Before his time at Eastern, DeRousse worked at his stepfather’s restaurant, the Mexican Villa, located in Mattoon. A few years later, he began training at a Denny’s in Salem, Illinois.

When DeRousse is away from Eastern, he attends fairs with his wife, running his own concession stand called “Fry Guys.” (Abraham Ortiz )

“After training in Salem, there was a Denny’s diner in Tuscola that opened up and I began working there,” DeRousse said. 

That’s diner was where DeRousse got started cooking breakfast. 

Fast forward to Jan. 2002, he began working at Eastern. He first began working in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Food Court and switched to catering about a year later. 

After catering, he worked in the dining halls for 14 years before solely working in Stevenson Dining Hall. 

Throughout his 22 years on campus, he has seen many changes. He recalled a time before Carman Hall closed, when student attendance was significantly higher, Stevenson Dining Hall had not been renovated yet and textbook rental was in an entirely different building. 

He also noticed a few changes within the student body. 

“’Lit’ was not a thing back in the 90s and 2000s,” He said. “Bell bottoms and things like that are coming back too, reverse trend if you will.” 

Despite the many changes on campus and the students themselves, his desire to connect with the students remains the same. 

“Students change, faces change, but I still try to strike up a conversation as much as I can and get to know as many as I can,” he said. 

During his time spent away from Eastern, DeRousse can be found with his wife at numerous fairgrounds around the state (Martinsville, Springfield and Coles County) or the Casey’s Popcorn Festival, running his locally owned and operated concession stand, Fry Guys. 

Although working on the grill, running his own business and having a family is taxing on his body, DeRousse said, “I wouldn’t change not interacting with you guys for a second. It’s what makes me do it.” 


Anna Hagan can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 


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Anna Hagan
Anna Hagan, Reporter
Anna Hagan is a public affairs major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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