Julie Crockett encourages students to embrace individuality

Savannah Hopkinson
Julie Crockett, associate professor in the College of Engineering and Technology, delivers a devotional address on maintaining individuality while striving for perfection. (Savannah Hopkinson)

Associate professor in the College of Engineering and Technology Julie Crockett has always enjoyed being different from those around her.

“I am over six feet tall but I still wear heels so I can be even taller,” Crockett said. “As a volleyball player, on long flights to away games I would sit cramped in my seat doing my calculus homework while my teammates teased me for being a nerd.”

Crockett shared a message on discovering one’s own divine individuality in her Mar. 6 devotional address.

She first discussed what defines individuality and why it is important. Crockett said each person has different experiences in life, resulting in an endless number of perspectives.

“Our individuality began before we were here and will continue on after we leave,” Crockett said. “We can, and should, keep our good personality traits and remember those experiences which allow us a different perspective so we can empathize with and encourage others.”

She then said to attain perfection people must follow Jesus Christ’s example and become like him. However, this does not mean losing one’s individuality, according to Crockett.

Crockett shared her journey of overcoming her “road frustration” and developing Christlike patience. She said in the process of developing patience, she developed a new personality trait defining who she is. The process of becoming more perfect results in becoming more individual and one’s divine self emerges, Crockett said. 

“As each of us becomes perfected we allow ourselves to be reminded of that person, who we were and who we can become, and it is not the person next to you,” she said. “It is the person in your seat.”

Crockett then shared a slide with a list of personality traits including competitive, independent, systemic, playful, relaxed and high-spirited — which describe her own personality.

“These are all personality traits which can set us apart while still allowing us to be similar in those traits which make us more Christ-like,” Crockett said. “I hope this brings peace to those of you who feel too different as well — we have much in common, but each of us should bring an individual personality to this life and the next as it is necessary for growth and progression.”

She said each person has different physical and mental capabilities and are each imperfect. The Godhead represents perfect individuals — each distinctly different.

“I know my Heavenly Father as a loving, caring, overseeing Father who is there for me when I need his strength and guidance,” Crockett said. “As we build our relationship with Him through intent prayer and honest action on his words, we come to know Him as our Father. My Heavenly Father is real. He is an individual. And he cares for me.”

There are many stories of Christ’s life and teachings that provide opportunities to get to know him and his personality, Crockett said.

“He knows he was sent unto all the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but he does not think of us as an amorphous blob that he is trying to pull along with him, he thinks of us as individuals he must walk alongside and lead,” Crockett said

She then shared she knows the Holy Ghost is a distinct being who has testified and inspired her as a constant companion.

“Talk about a ‘dream team!’” Crockett said. “Three perfect, distinct, individuals working together to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Each has their own role and it is essential that they be different to accomplish their goal.”

One of Crockett’s research areas is fluid dynamics — the study of liquids and gases moving. She specifically researches how water behaves on superhydrophobic (super water-repelling) surfaces.

“There are many ways to create superhydrophobic surfaces, but all of the methods allow for the same properties which make them so popular: they have a microstructure and are chemically water repellant and thus, they are all self-cleaning,” she said. “They are the same in purpose, but each has been created using a different process and looks different at the microscopic level.”

She said another example of maintaining individuality while working towards perfection is the current first presidency of the church. Each one of these men have different personalities.

“We can see this from the way they speak, stories from their lives, what they are most passionate about, and how they interact with each other and us,” Crockett said. “But on January 18th of this year they spoke united as a new Presidency to the members of the church, in an unprecedented broadcast from the temple.”

She said the new first presidency is made up of three amazing individuals, whose purpose, is to help people make and keep sacred covenants. Their different personalities is what makes them a strong team.

Crockett then shared her first experience in engineering when she built a shelf as a kid. The shelf did not turn out great, but she was proud of it. She said she enjoyed making it and learning, and was proud she had tried. 

“My first foray into engineering was not a success, but I have built on that, significantly, and although I would not say I am perfect in engineering, I would say I am much more proficient,” Crockett said. “I had to have that first experience, I had to act to guide me to the end result.”

Crockett said she has grown as an engineer and her knowledge and capabilities have been expanded.

“As we become more perfect, more like Christ, we become more individual. We begin to comprehend our eternal nature,” Crockett said. “We recognize truth and are able to think more deeply about it, leading better understanding of ourselves and others and thus to a stronger individual identity.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will deliver the next devotional address on Tuesday, Mar. 13.

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