Interview with Alumna Mariah Johnson

Mariah Johnson


In honor of Black History Month this year, we are delighted to showcase the voices of some remarkable individuals from Bastyr University – both current students and esteemed alumni. Join us as we amplify their stories, celebrate their achievements, and delve into their reflections on the significance of Black History Month. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Mariah Johnson, an alumna who successfully completed Bastyr’s Master of Science in Nutrition/Didactic Program in 2023. 

What is your current position, and if you are a graduate of Bastyr, how did Bastyr prepare you for your career?

I am currently a dietetic intern at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, California. This is the next required step on my particular nutrition track (DPD program) to ultimately become a registered dietitian. The clinical experience at Bastyr Center for Natural Health during my program gave me a chance to practice my nutrition counseling skills, apply evidence-based interventions with actual patients and practice using educational materials to support my recommendations. Having a dietitian supervise and guide me, along with the support of my peers, during these visits was insightful and clarifying. The experience helped me to gain a keen awareness of how to effectively collaborate with patients and develop confidence in my clinical judgment. 

What led you to choose your career path?

My excitement for the deliciousness of food and its innate ability to nourish and heal us. I see food as medicine and an empowering tool that allows us to take agency in our health. As someone who is fueled by social justice and empowering my community, I find food and the act of being an agent in the state of your health to be revolutionary. Nutrition fulfills a sense of duty to serve my community through a vehicle that brings me joy. 

Who or what has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?

There have been so many! I think each inspiration has played an essential role at different points in my path. Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, artist/educator/activist Ise Lyfe, herbalist Julie James, Chef Sophia Roe, and powerful Black female farmers like Leah Penniman and Nyema Clark are a few. Dr. Andrew Weil's book Spontaneous Healing was a pivotal work that I found early along my journey. It inspired me to think outside of the box and opened my eyes to a wider variety of channels that people can use to find harmony in their bodies. 

What motivates you in your professional endeavors?

My deep faith in the divine power of our bodies to heal themselves, the health disparities affecting people of color and other marginalized communities, and the fun, engaging medium of food and it's powerful capacity to facilitate our healing process. There is a lack of diversity in the field of dietetics, and I feel motivated to be someone who plays a role in changing that, allowing more people to feel seen, heard, and reflected in their health journey. 

What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

Carter G. Woodson made it his life's work to teach and dignify us, reminding Black people and the entire country of our honorable contributions and that Black history is American history. For me, it is a reminder to not be discouraged when we don't have a seat at any hypothetical table but to see it as an opportunity to create and fill the voids - for each other and the larger audiences who desire our contributions from our perspective. I feel honored and excited to be part of envisioning and creating our prosperous Black futures!