MASD Students

Meet the current MA in Social Design students.

MA in Social Design students have a variety of backgrounds and experiences and come from around the world to explore the designer’s role and responsibility in advancing equity and social justice.

MASD '22

Allison Tomlinson '22

A photographer, a writer and a nature enthusiast, Allison originally hails from a cookie-cutter suburb outside Philadelphia, PA. She received her BS in Secondary English Education and has a diverse background in other fields including food services, library sciences, human resources, and pharmaceuticals. Her varied history has left her clambering for a path to social change, as she's fascinated by the intersection of place, design, and identity: how the story of a land and it's infrastructure affects a community's narrative and one's own personal narrative. In all of her past exploits, Allison has found a way to advocate for the needs of those around her, often lending a listening ear, speaking to leadership on behalf of others and reporting issues of discrimination. In these efforts, she realized her desire to make change on a system level, and she's excited to gain more tools to design better structures to fight injustice.

Allyson Hilgeman '22

Allyson Hilgeman is a lover of language and culture studies spending time within her university career completing a BA in cultural entrepreneurship accompanied with a minor in psychology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her time in academia includes the development of incorporating the recognition of language and culture within the realm of business, innovation, and creative, strategic thinking. To further her interest and experience within the design process, Allyson has participated in numerous community and culture interest business projects designed to bring value to the world through product innovation. She has studied sustainability, economics, and politics in Oaxaca, Mexico, pursued global business and indigenous culture studies at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and mentored international students from India and Canada through a seven-week creativity course encouraging young learners to utilize their individual and unique creativity to make the world a better place.

Dejia Danhi '22

Dejia Danhi is a DMV local, originating from northern Virginia. She graduated with distinction in Multimedia Design from Juniata College, where they played collegiate volleyball. She best describes herself as an empath with grit; someone who isn’t afraid to push the seal when advocating for others. She has worked in political direct mail and branding working with small nonprofits and small businesses. Alongside her professional work, their independent artwork is focused on being outspoken and honest. Their work’s purpose is to promote healing and to advocate for people by giving a voice to companies and brands that are committed to building relationships across all communities. She designs to transform her audiences' thinking, promote healing, and ignite this fire of action within them. Dejia is a passionate artist that wears her heart on her sleeve, who prefers to work in print, graphic art software, and stencil work to exhibit their art.

Dhvani Shah '22

As a Miami Ad School alumna and former Art Director from Ogilvy Mumbai, Dhvani’s experiences have been scattered over design for advertising and social impact. She is a part of the core team that runs Indian Creative Women, an industry-wide forum of 1500+ women that focuses on increasing the percentage of women creatives in the Indian Advertising and Design industry by creating real on-ground change. She also volunteers for Annadhan Welfare Foundation; a ‘zero budget’ non-profit that collects surplus food & utilities and distributes it to the homeless. Dhvani believes that design and innovation can create lasting social good in the emerging world. She’s now seeking formal education that match the two i.e. how design can facilitate social change. She wants to learn every step, right from research to execution, and gain knowledge and experience in the U.S., that has a relatively organised social sector, to solve social issues in India.

Elizabeth Emmett '22

Elizabeth is a visual artist as well as an educator. She has spent the last 8 years teaching within the magical and wonder-filled realm of Early Childhood. As a trained Waldorf educator, she dove deeply into both local and global storytelling, music-making, and human development. Spirituality and time spent with the natural world are continued practices and are integral parts in forming Elizabeth’s path. Whether trekking in the mountains, rivers, and forests of the Northeast with children or exploring international terrain and culture, Elizabeth is always seeking to observe, connect, and create meaningful and beautiful experiences. As an artist who sees emergence everywhere she looks, Elizabeth is thrilled to be the student again and discover how socially- responsible and human-centered design can impact her communities beyond the classroom.

Ellie Bazurto '22

Ellie is an industrial and experiential designer with a passion for speculative design, with a focus on community-connectedness and more sustainable futures. Using a process rooted in empathy, strategy, storytelling, and research-based in sociology, ethnography, and collaboration she is working to create opportunities for systematic change. Originally from Northern California, she recently completed a degree in Industrial and Interaction Design from Syracuse University earning the Arthur Pulos Award for attention to ethics in design. During her time, she helped found and lead Women in Design Syracuse. More recently, she was selected as an Access&_Design Fellow for emerging designers of color to learn equitable design and as an Impact Wrkshp Fellow using participatory design for its annual social impact project. In her free time, Ellie enjoys capturing her adventures on film, the beauty of everyday objects, soaking up any sunshine she can get, and attempting to tackle the ever-growing pile of books on her bedside table.

Hannah Young '22

Hannah is a Texas raised artist, activist, facilitator, and collaborator who centers community, equity, and transformative justice. After completing a bachelors from The Evergreen State College focusing on the Surrealist cultural movement, Hannah taught for many years in a low-tech, nature and play based Reggio Emilia program working with children as young as 6 weeks to 12 years. Practice in a child development philosophy fostering self-guided, relationship-driven, and nature centered learning environments has been a crucial influence in her growth and action as a community organizer and activist. After finding her place and stride in social and environmental justice organizations in Austin, Hannah began seeking ways to foster more creativity in movements, leading her to MASD. Her goals are to develop systems, toolkits, and creative blockades which promote full autonomy for individual communities to utilize, liberate, and elevate their own assets, unfettered.

Kennedy McDaniel '22

Born and reared in Baltimore City, Kennedy McDaniel is a multi-disciplinary creative driven by empathy and equity. She studied dance at the Baltimore School for the Arts and later received her B.A. in Africana Studies from Johns Hopkins University. For the last two years, she has been engaging with the community at the Greenmount West Community Center, where she served as Social Media and Grant Writing Manager, bringing in hundreds of new supporters and thousands of dollars in grant funding. She established BLACCINE in 2016, a self-care zine for Black folks with an emphasis on Black women. In 2020-21, she served on the Steering Committee for the National Agenda for Black Girls, where she worked with 100 other Black folks across the nation to establish and sustain an advocacy network by and for Black girls and gender-expansive youth.

Larissa Hawkins '22

Larissa is a Baltimore native. She received her BA in Studio Art from The Catholic University of America in 2019. While in school, she worked as a Washington D.C.-based artist and a trauma-informed yoga instructor before moving back to her Baltimore home. She focuses on spreading awareness of social impact by integrating art and holistic health. She has worked as a graphic designer for businesses centered around health and wellness. Larissa believes that design subtly affects the psyche. Design is an incomparable tool when used intentionally and mindfully because it can create social change.

Matt Coles '22

Matt has a unique background in the public health field. Recently he worked at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the International Vaccine Access Center serving as their Senior Grants & Contracts Analyst. He worked on the financial and administrative management of research grants focused on vaccine preventable diseases. Prior to Johns Hopkins, he was a Program Officer at the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia managing their global health programs. Matt also served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Gambia from 2000-2003. While in West Africa, he worked on computer technology capacity building for the Ministry of Health and served as a vaccinator for the country’s National Polio Immunization Days. He also worked as a Biologist at the USDA studying wild geese disease impacts on urban environments. His family’s motto is “You Never Know What’s Around the Corner” and now comes around a new corner to MICA’s MASD program to build upon social and human centered design for public and international health.

Rhea Gupta '22

Rhea discovered the importance of design as a tool for positive impact through her design and research work in her final semester at Srishti School of Design, Bangalore in 2017. Her product ‘Upcycled Holdall’, driven as a CSR Project, catered to the depleting plight of migrant labour in India and garnered media coverage that exposed her to the importance of iterating a design challenge coupled with design thinking. Since then, her work has focused primarily on environmental, cultural, and social parameters. She has worked with an array of clients including Dastkar - a social organisation aimed at uplifting more than 1 lakh artisans of India, the Bhutanese Handicrafts Association, and her latest endeavour in edu tech with Alison - a free learning tool focused on empowering blue collar learners with the power of accessible education. Rhea believes that the real world problems are too complex to be solved by a single design discipline, and at MICA she seeks to explore multidisciplinary design practices garnered towards community engagement, social upliftment, and the use of technology for social change.

Thomas Cudjoe '22

Thomas K.M. Cudjoe was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Macon, Georgia. Since graduating from college at Hampton University; he has lived in New Jersey, Boston, and Washington D.C. Over the last six years he has called Baltimore City his home. Thomas cares for older adults in their homes and studies how social isolation impacts the health of this population. His passion to support the health and well-being of older adults stem from formative interactions throughout his youth with his grandparents in Georgia, and Ghana. Thomas has a strong inclination to engage communities to solve complex social challenges and advance health equity. He serves on the Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Retirement Services and the East Baltimore Community School Board. He is overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to be apart of MASD Cohort 2022 and to receive the generous support of MICA and the Leslie King-Hammond Fellowship.

Xing Tianqiao '22

Xing Tianqiao is a Beijing-born and raised designer, graduated from Industrial design in Central Academic of Fine Arts. During the fabulous college journey, she participated in an un-profit organization that helping children with hearing impairment to better connect with the local community. With the experience, she believes that design plays a role in advancing community equality and shaping people’s life. In the meantime, she invests herself as a professional 3D Alias modeling designer who brings amid imagination and creativity to real life, which helped solidify her technical and team-building skills. She is looking forward to continuing her education and merge with human-centered design with the MASD team.