Dowagiac graduate receives WMU scholarship

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College’s Math/Science Department April 30 paid tribute to a pair of powerhouse students, Jossalyn Rogalski and Creed Roschyk.

Rogalski received the Darrin Williams Memorial Scholarship, the highest award bestowed. Roschyk was awarded the department’s Appreciation Award, won by his sister, Anaya, in 2019. Awards could not be presented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chair Ria Thomas noted at a casual masked ceremony in Mathews Conference Center East on the Dowagiac campus.

Rogalski, Dowagiac’s 2020 salutatorian, is the keynote speaker for SMC’s Outstanding Graduate Reception in Alumni Plaza on May 12. An Honors Program participant since last fall, she is graduating with her associate degree in general sciences thanks to the Early Middle College program.

Rogalski, Cass County’s 2016 spelling champion, recently learned that she has been awarded by Western Michigan University a full-ride Medallion Scholarship valued at $64,000 across four years. WMU selects 20 each year.

“I have two years left for my bachelor’s,” she said, “so the rest of the money can be applied to my master’s.”

Medallion Scholars are members of Lee Honors College and expected to demonstrate The Medallion Ethic, a spirit of commitment to excellence and leadership that challenges each recipient to make a difference.

“I will be majoring in biology because zoology falls under that category,” Rogalski said. “I have always been interested in forensic science, so that is why if a career option ever arose with forensic biology I would likely take it.”

Through the years she volunteered to help move alligators at the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, with the Michigan Nature Association and with Andrews University biologists working with rattlesnakes and box turtles.

“I haven’t found many other volunteer opportunities like this until recently, though,” she said. “I am still mainly interested in predatory animals. Conservation is key to protecting our ecosystem, so working as a conservation biologist focusing on habitats of predators would be amazing as well.”

The Darrin Williams Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of a 1988 SMC graduate from Dowagiac. This STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) transfer scholarship recognizes a second-year student who exhibits traits Darrin exemplified: scholarship, service to the department, integrity, cooperation and a sense of humor. Williams went on to Michigan Technological University. He died in an auto accident coming home for Christmas.

The Appreciation Award was established in 2012 to honor a high school student or returning student planning to continue at SMC who demonstrates a strong work ethic, shows academic promise, plans to pursue a STEM-related career and made a significant department contribution.

Roschyk, from Granger, wants to obtain a mechanical engineering degree, then go to medical school, becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

He is a high school junior who plans to spend his senior year studying in Germany through the merit-based Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program founded in 1983. He will finish his SMC degree this summer.

Roschyk leaves in August.

“They tell us where we’re going two weeks before, then send us all over the country. I think we stay in a dorm for the first month to get used to the language, then we live with host families the rest of the year,” he said. “I have a little bit of heritage because my great-grandmother is from there. I just love the country, and the scholarship is fully paid, so I don’t have to put any money into it.”

U.S. funding is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the State Department. The program was initially established to celebrate the 300th anniversary of German settlement in North America. The year culminates at a Washington, D.C., conference where students reflect on their exchange and share experiences.

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