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 '24

Isaac Hylton wearing a blue to, silver necklace, and glasses with hands behind back in front of a brick wall.

Isaac Hylton '24

Hi, I’m Isaac Hylton. I am a graduate from Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts. My discipline is Theatre Arts with a concentration in Cinema Studies. I served the Leadership and Social Change Residential College (LSCRC) as the president of the College Council. I received the Prince-Dukore Award for excellence in the area of Cinema and Theatre scholarship. I’ve made it to the “big screen” of the Richmond International Film Festival, all thanks to the incredible talent of Virginia Tech’s faculty and associates. And this year, I’ve been awarded the Roberta Polevoy Fund of the Community Foundation Scholarship. As a social designer, I am interested in reforming antiquated narratives that yield ill-conceived biases and social inequity. I believe it’s an honor and an obligation to make substantive investments into our communities; to intentionally cultivate a distinctive mythos, super-ego, and character for each locale, and ultimately MAKE the world we imagine.

Elisa Alarcón Marín smiling in front of a brick wall wearing a white top and gold 'E' necklace.

Elisa Alarcón Marín '24

Graduated from UAM (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana) in Mexico City, Elisa is an industrial designer and photographer deeply focused on gender perspective. She has taken active leadership in social design projects, collaborating with both rural and urban communities of women in Mexico, as well as implementing entrepreneurship models and mentorship programs specially designed for women across 5 countries in Latin America. Elisa’s main goal during these projects relies on facilitating innovative systems that encourage women to empower themselves and motivate them to build community and support networks between one another. She is people-oriented and is always eager to meet new friends and build quality relationships along the way.

Pallavi Mambillil smiling in front of brightly colored graffiti on a brick wall holding a block of wood wearing a light blue button down shirt and jeans.

Pallavi Mambillil '24

Pallavi is an educator and designer from Bangalore, India. After completing her bachelors in product design she worked on projects around women's health, menstruation and with people with disabilities. She centers her work around low income families from India, and aims to create safe spaces for women and children. Before joining the MASD course she worked with young minds in the classroom, as a Teach for India fellow. Her goals are to continue in her work for equitable education and better access to health care, for women and children. She believes in the transformative power of good design, and envisions how we can all be a cause for change.

Sydney Howell smiling in front of a brick wall wearing a white knitted sweater with blue and purple flowers.

Sydney Howell '24

Hailing originally from the vibrant city of Salt Lake City, Utah, my journey led me to attain a BFA in graphic design from the esteemed University of Utah. As I delved into the professional realm, working as a designer, a lingering void in the corporate design sphere drew my attention – a void that could only be filled by a genuine sense of community. This realization prompted me to pivot towards the field of social work, where I discovered my passion for engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds, fostering connections that resonated deeply with my soul. During my personal moments of contemplation, I channel my creative energy into thought-provoking projects that explore the intricate interplay of femininity within design, and I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to advocating for sexual health awareness. Even as my fondness for the art of design persists, my trajectory led me to the Master of Arts in Social Design (MASD) program, an intersection where my love for design seamlessly converges with my yearning for community involvement. Envisioning the path ahead, I aspire to collaborate with conscientious companies and nonprofits that mirror my values, all while nurturing an aspiration to impart the essence of our roles as designers to upcoming generations, illuminating the profound impact we can wield within our communities.

Swathi Gangadhar smiling in front of a brick wall with colorful graffiti and wearing a green tank top with a denim jacket.

Swathi Gangadhar '24

Swathi Gangadhar is an Interdisciplinary designer and researcher. Her background is in Architecture and Creative arts which has led her to gain varied exposure in domains that focus on diversity and equity. Originally from India, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Architecture and eventually moved to Ireland to explore a community away from the known. Every project of hers is seen through a human-inclusive lens and being a continuous enthusiast in the social sector she became an integral part of the pilot project called ‘The Big Idea’ that helps transition year students with creative choices and in turn addressing the big social problems. Through the work that she was involved in she developed close friendships, mentors, a new community and a forever love for the greenspace. She helped facilitate a transformation in the curriculum development in schools through a nonprofit organization. Currently, at MASD she continues to pursue her goals towards achieving equitable education and healthcare services by designing with the communities and breaking the systematic barriers.

Meredith Bond smiling and leaning on a graffitied brick wall with short blue hair and wearing a tan turtleneck.

Meredith Bond '24

Meredith comes to MICA with a legal and public sector background that spans over a decade. In recent years, the trajectory of both her personal and professional worlds took an about face when she began to professionally work on a restorative justice project and personally began her journey to bring out her inner-creative. It is the combination of these life changing events that brought her to the MASD Program. Meredith is passionate about social justice, community, and all forms of creative outlets. In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Blanche, exploring Baltimore, and planning the perfect road trip. During her time as a MASD student, she hopes to enhance her design skills and find new ways to create restorative community spaces.

Shannon Willing smiling and wearing a brown knitted sweater in front of colorful graffiti on a brick wall.

Shannon Willing '24

Shannon Willing is a Baltimore-based graphic designer, theater artist, and dancer. She has performed locally at Fells Point Corner Theatre, Spotlighters Theatre, and Strand Theater, and as a guest dancer for the CCBC Dance Company. Professionally, Shannon aims to facilitate communication by designing proposal infographics for government healthcare work. She has also developed curriculum and led company-wide classes on design best-practices for presentation and graphics creation. As a social designer, Shannon is interested in researching the built environment and how public and green spaces, transportation, and other infrastructure can affect community structure as well as the health and welfare of individuals.

Ruth Maestas wearing glasses and a denim jacket smiling in front of colorful graffiti on a brick wall.

Ruth Maestas '24

Ruth is a communications professional and graphic artist focused on advocacy-driven design. She received her B.A. in Advertising from the University of Oregon with an emphasis in graphic design and digital illustration in 2021. Her desire for meaningful community engagement and creative expression led her to communications work in an environmental justice nonprofit in Portland, OR. During her tenure, she advanced the organization’s mission through multiple design initiatives, most notably in developing “Shed Talks,” a free, artist-led seminar series that aims to recontextualize understandings of waste and consumption while underlining the creative potential of reuse. Ruth’s undergraduate studies and experience working in the nonprofit sector have largely informed her passion for human-centered design and its capacity for building social equity. As a MASD student, Ruth is excited to participate in direct community engagement throughout Baltimore and continue exploring the fields of environmental justice and transformative justice.