Healthcare Design Student Impacts Lives of Senior Living Residents

“Healthcare is a human right,” graduate student Mashika Gallo said, explaining why she pursued a degree in the healthcare design master’s program at Kent State University. The results of this philosophy for Gallo include a clear focus and research that has won numerous scholarships.

Gallo, a New Orleans native and interior designer by trade, became interested in senior living design after taking the course Developing Environments for Older Adults taught by adjunct professor Addie Abushousheh, Ph.D., EDAC.

Mashika Gallo At the Center for Health Design“Her course provided a guide for me,” Gallo said. “It opened my eyes and helped me expand my imagination and my vision for myself as a designer.”

Her gerontological research has also been inspired by her grandmother, Madea, and her experiences in senior living facilities.

“My grandmother was the matriarch and the lifeblood of our family,” she said. “Our seniors deserve better.”

Gallo’s research interests center on the political economy of healthcare, lifespan theory and environments for aging. Her graduate research has focused on designing a comprehensive Veterans Health Administration Small House Community for people living with dementia.

She hopes her research can impact the ways individuals living with dementia socialize, engage in mind activities and overall have a safe living environment. Gallo’s designs are created with the goal of providing a life full of autonomy, inclusivity and equity to all seniors living in her environments.

The research Gallo has conducted during her time at Kent State has not gone unnoticed.

Gallo was the inaugural recipient of the 2022 Ageless Living Collaborative (ALC) Senior Living Design Scholarship, a $10,000 tuition scholarship. The goal of this scholarship is to provide opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers focused in senior living design.

SMashika Gallo Gold Key Awardshe is also a member of the 2023 Ohio Scholar in Aging program, one of 20 recipients of the ASBO International Emerging Leaders scholarship, a recipient of the Graduate Student Senate Domestic Travel Award, and the recipient of the 2022 National Association of Home Builders Professional Women in Building Council’s Strategies for Success scholarship.

Gallo is not only concerned about designing accessible spaces for senior living but also cares about the type of care older adults receive as well.

In her free time, Gallo serves as an Ombudsman volunteer at the Direction Home Akron Canton, whose mission is to provide older adults with the long-term care choices needed to live the highest quality of life. Ombudsman volunteers serve as the link between residents and facilities by listening to resident concerns and working to find a solution.

Gallo’s time as a volunteer at Direction Home has helped her to see how individuals interact and engage with a space from a design perspective and to think of new ways that a space can impact a resident’s life.

“More than anything,” Gallo said, “my goal for design is that seniors can live a life with value and dignity.”

Gallo is also pursuing a graduate certificate in gerontology and is looking forward to graduating in May 2023.

To learn more about the College of Architecture and Environmental Design or the Master's of Healthcare Design, visit

POSTED: Monday, February 6, 2023 09:55 AM
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2023 10:43 AM
Taylor Cook, Flash Communications