Marjorie Baldwin is a professor of economics in Arizona State University’s school of business. She’s also the academic director of the university’s Public Health Programs. Her research focuses on work disability, especially involving people with mental illnesses. Before joining a Zócalo panel discussion about the future of health care in America—“Will the Aging of America Bankrupt the Health Care System?”—she talked in the Zócalo green room about her favorite food, her tricks for staying positive, and the misperceptions people have about mental illness.
How do you stay cool in Arizona?
I stay inside in the summer. Or go to Paris if I can.
What’s one common assumption people have about serious mental illness that isn’t true?
A common assumption is that people with a mental illness are disabled, that they’re unable to live productive lives and contribute to society.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of you life, what would it be?
Yogurt parfaits. I eat them for breakfast. And sometimes also for lunch.
You work in a challenging field. What’s a trick you use to stay positive?
Working with students keeps me positive. It’s really a privilege to work with people who are just about to finish college. They’re so excited to enter the professional world.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing?
Writing! The whole thing is difficult. But it’s such a reward when you’ve written something and you’ve made sense.
Are you excited about virtual reality?
No. I am not a tech person at all. If it’s not one of the buttons I’m used to pushing, I don’t understand it. I like real reality, not the virtual kind.
If you could give your 20-year-old self advice, what would you say?
Be willing to take more risks. Be willing to think outside the box. I grew up in an era when women had very few choices. I would tell myself to think about what other things I could do besides what stereotypes said I should do.
What’s one thing school can’t teach a person?
As a director of a health management master’s program, I found that we could teach finance and economic theory, but we couldn’t really teach leadership. You can’t teach the things you have to learn from experience. Sometimes you just need to be knocked down hard and learn how to get up.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
I don’t have one.
How do you survive long airport layovers?
I spend a lot of extra time in airports, because I’m always afraid I’m going to miss the plane. I bring my Wall Street Journal and I plug my laptop in wherever I can. And I have a glass of wine.