Suzette Arcibal Baldwin, Extension Plant Diagnostician, North Dakota State University

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself. Tell us who you are and what you do.

Mabuhay! I grew up in the Philippines, a tropical country with over 7,000 islands. I moved to the US when I was 21 to go on to graduate school where I met my husband Tom. We have been happily married for eight years and have our adorable daughter Lyra who is now four. We moved from Idaho to North Dakota during the pandemic and have been living here for over three years.

My academic journey is by no means linear or over. I experienced being a traditional and nontraditional graduate student and still am one. I earned my MS in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia and ALM in Sustainability from Harvard Extension School. I plan to finish my Ph.D. in Plant Science from the University of Idaho by the end of this year, while my husband and I are working full time at NDSU and raising our family.

Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why? Who inspires you?

I am fortunate to have crossed paths with many influential individuals on my journey, but nothing beats family. My parents instilled in me and my three siblings the value of hard work and perseverance. Despite facing financial challenges during our formative years. They made sure that we always had food on the table and access to quality education. I also owe a significant part of my success to my husband who has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth.

What drives you?

My driving force is fueled by my passion for science, helping others, and creating a positive impact. Science is everywhere and essential to our future. While change may appear daunting, I am actively making conscious choices to contribute to a better world for future generations, especially for my daughter and nieces.

What do you think can be improved in our business community?

As a working mom, it is my goal to support our family and help my child find her own success. With the FM area’s growing population, it is essential to invest in early care and education through public-private partnerships. Moreover, organizations will benefit from implementing family-friendly policies, including paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements, to improve employee retention and productivity.

What are some important life lessons you have learned?

Stay focused on your own journey, knowing that every individual progresses at his or her own pace. It is never too early or too late to pursue your dreams. Most importantly, cherish your time with family by being present for them while you still have the chance.

What are some of your favorite things to do in our community?

Our family enjoys outdoor activities at the parks, and we have attended numerous events at the fairgrounds. My husband and I enjoy both trying out new restaurants and revisiting our favorite dining spots and breweries.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I envision myself taking on a prominent leadership role within the field of agriculture. My focus will be on addressing complex, interdisciplinary challenges and driving forward science-based policies to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development. However, balancing a rewarding career with a fulfilling family life remains a top priority for me as I pursue my ambitious goals.

What are you hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program?

I aim to improve my unique leadership skills and confidence as a woman leader. I hope to build stronger connections with our community and form lasting friendships with other women who I might not have crossed paths with otherwise.

What are your passions outside of work?

My family is my utmost priority, and I ensure that I spend as much quality time with them as I can. I like seeking new experiences, visiting natural wonders, exploring new cuisines, immersing myself in different cultures, and the list goes on.

Tell us about 1-2 books, podcasts, or professional development experiences that have changed the way you view leadership.

“Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus is very relatable, especially for women in science. While significant progress has been made in the last half-century, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the workplace for women.

“Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food We Grow” by Robert Paalberg is a must-read for anyone interested in agricultural and food systems. There are many misconceptions surrounding food production, including the pros and cons of both modern and traditional farming.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.