First-year biology student aims to inspire environmental activism through art

Contact: Erin Flynn
Rogalski poses for a photograph on a bridge holding a book.

Jossalyn Rogalski grew up surrounded by nature. It fueled her dream of a career working with animals and her passion for environmental sustainability and conservation.

SISTER LAKES, Mich.—For someone who didn't have Wi-Fi until 11th grade, Jossalyn Rogalski has figured out social media pretty quickly. She's reached influencer status with more than 17,000 followers on TikTok for her impressive makeup skills. But there's more to her videos than artistic skincare; her projects tackle tough topics like mental health, human rights and climate change.

"I recently did an environmental makeup series with eight or nine looks dedicated to multiple areas of the environment that need awareness," says Rogalski, who will be a first-year biology student at Western Michigan University in the fall. "The first look was a globe falling apart and the other half of it was a clock to represent how the world is running out of time. I did a wildfire look; I did melting glaciers. I did a skyline of factories with smoke going off my forehead and a bunch of different looks that shockingly got about 200,000 views."

Three pictures of Jossalyn Rogalski side by side with a clock, melting glaciers and a factory under a smog-filled sky painted on her face.

Rogalski created a series of makeup looks on TikTok to raise awareness about environmental issues such as global warming and air pollution.

Environmental issues have always been close to Rogalski's heart. Her home in Sister Lakes, Michigan, has woods behind it and a cherry orchard across the street that she loved to explore as a kid.

"Not having Wi-Fi (until the latter years of high school) kind of forced me to get outdoors and stay entertained outside," she says. "I grew up basically out in nature all the time, having trails to wander. It really helped to instill a love of nature in me, and I have wanted to protect it and conserve it and help better the outdoors ever since."

Her social media posts include facts about conservation, sustainability and the importance of taking action. She also includes videos of herself picking up trash and doing other activities to help the environment, working to educate followers about how to live greener lives.

Rogalski hopes to continue her environmental stewardship at Western. Reading about the University's renewable energy initiatives and other sustainability efforts make her even more excited to become a Bronco.

"I just like to give back and to get people interested in the environment. I'm most excited about being able to actually connect with people face-to-face more on campus," she says. "Finding new service opportunities and ways to get involved with the environment with other people is something I'm looking forward to."

Jossalyn Rogalski wades in a stream and bends down to touch the plants on the water's edge.

Rogalski interacts with nature in Newton Woods, which is in the Fred Russ Forest in Cass County, Michigan.

Recognized for her excellence in academics as a Medallion Scholar—the University's most prestigious merit-based scholarship for undergraduates—she is also excited to roll up her sleeves and dive headfirst into her studies. As an aspiring zoologist, Rogalski is looking forward to her zoology class first semester. Her dream career would be to follow in the footsteps of wildlife experts like Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall.

"They've had such a big impact on the animal field," she says, hoping to get her feet wet with some field experience through one of Western's many study abroad programs.

"It's always going to be a dream of mine to go to Africa and work with lions and everything else that could be over there. Of course, if that doesn't happen, I would be content just working with animals even with a DNR job here in the United States. I ultimately want a career where I am happy with what I am doing and that gives back to the world in some way."

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