Carmel High School alum named Ball State graduate of decade for design work 


Emily McGowan’s experiences at Carmel High School guided her career path.

“I was real involved in art and theater design. Those things led me to want to apply to Ball State and do architecture,” McGowan said.

CIC DOUGH 0302 Architect McGowan

McGowan graduated with two degrees from Ball State University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from College of Architecture in December 2011. The 2007 CHS graduate recently received the Graduate of the Last Decade Award, or G.O.L.D., from both the College of Architecture and Planning and the Ball State Alumni Association.

“It was a huge honor,” McGowan said. “I feel my journey has gone a lot of different places.”

After working for a small architectural firm for health care work, McGowan moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a health care designer for a corporate design and planning firm.

“I’m passionate about community, diversity and healthy environments,” she said. “That kind of lent itself to me to pursue my master’s degree at Clemson, which has a program specifically for health care design.”

McGowan was awarded a fellowship with Global Health Corp. and spent nearly two years in Rwanda, returning in late fall of 2017.

“A lot of what I studied in architecture school at Ball State and since was looking at underserved populations and the way design and healing can fuse together to make better environments that are sustainable and healthy,” she said. “We designed and built two prototype hospitals. It was really a transformative experience. I felt all my education prepared me to operate in an environment of a more developed nation like the U.S., so broadening my experiences to work in a completely different culture in the way health care is delivered and design is done was really challenging.”

McGowan learned that assumptions on how things are done in the U.S. were not going to be the way things were done in Rwanda.

“I felt I grew a lot from that experience,” she said.

McGowan now works for HOK, a global design firm, working in the health care sector, in Washington, D.C. Healthcare Design magazine named McGowan as a rising star in December 2019.

“I owe a lot my success to the foundation and inspirations I had growing up in Carmel and am also now excited to use my talent and knowledge to better shape the Hoosier community back home,” she said. “I am part of an exciting team working on the new design and campus urban plan/expansion of the IU Health Medical Campus downtown. I am leveraging design skills to better prepare and adapt future Indianapolis health care environments to the ever-changing landscape of threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”