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Bladen County Young Professionals: Helping people find their voice is her passion


By Erin Smith

Helping people to find their voice is the passion of Speech and Language Pathologist, Ariel Johnson. She enjoys nothing more than seeing someone succeed at overcoming impediments such as stroke or cleft pallets and learning how to speak once more.

“I knew I wanted to help individuals but I didn’t know in exactly what field,” said Johnson.

When she left Bladen County to attend college, she said she had no idea she would return here to start her career. Johnson graduated from East Bladen High School in 2011 and from North Carolina A & T State University with a degree in Speech and Language Pathology in May 2015.

“It was in my head I wanted to be a lawyer,” said Johnson of her freshman year in college.  She explained that she enrolled in some courses in Speech and Language Pathology and realized she enjoyed the courses so much, she chose to make it a career.

She said Speech and Language Pathologists treat patients who suffer with communication disorders. Those disorders can range from such things as strokes or deformities such as cleft pallets.

She said when she graduated from college in 2015, she really didn’t see herself moving back to Bladen County.

“I thought I wanted to live in the big city before living there for four years. Then I decided I was a small town girl,” said Johnson.

She moved back to Bladen County and joined Bladen Medical Associates (BMA) where she works in the Elizabethtown office. Johnson said she learned there are actually more opportunities here in the rural area than in the larger city.

Johnson said while she has been working at BMA has been a good experience for her,  she is also pursuing her Masters degree in Speech and Language Pathology.

She said while she is not yet working as a Speech Pathologist, she is making patient referrals for speech related disorders. Johnson said one thing she has learned while working at BMA is the importance of patient care.


“The patient is the most important part of the job,” said Johnson.

She said her goals for herself are:

*Provide excellent services to adults and children with disorders.

*Bring awareness to what Speech and Language Pathologists do.

*She said often, people are embarrassed by their speech impediments or disorders and she wants to raise awareness of those disorders in the community.

*To open her own private practice.

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