Office Story: Rebecca Smithey, a Master of Her Craft

Who: Rebecca Smithey is an accounting specialist for UT Libraries. She’s worked at UT for 18 years, accounting for every penny the Libraries spend. She pays invoices, balances budgets, and keeps accounts of the Libraries’ $10 million in yearly expenditures.

smithey-2About her: Smithey grew up on a farm in Blount County as the youngest of her family, with three older brothers. She received her associate’s degree in accounting and has been working in the profession for 43 years.

Every now and then, Smithey spends her time on campus in a different role: student. She takes undergraduate courses she finds interesting, and although her GPA is near-perfect she isn’t too concerned with her transcripts. “I love to learn new things, all the time,” she said.

Her love of learning is also conveyed through her crafts. Smithey learned to crochet at a young age. She makes everything from shawls to baby booties to doll costumes.

“In order to communicate with my family, I had to learn to crochet,” she said. “My mother and two grandmothers spoke in turn with their chains; if you didn’t crochet, you didn’t keep up.”

Smithey has recently taken up yet another craft—creating beaded jewelry using a loom.

About her office: Smithey has decorated her cubicle with objects that tell her story. As an avid animal lover, she has numerous stuffed animals—ranging from a river otter to an Alaskan malamute—perched on her shelves. Some represent pets she has owned, like the groundhog named Charlie she had as a child.

smithey-1She also collects rocks, many of them gifts from her student workers over the years. “I don’t want them to spend any of their money on something for me,” she said. “They pick up a rock from wherever they’ve been, and now I’ve got a few from some really interesting places, like Illinois, New Mexico, and even South Korea.”

First thing she’ll show you: One of her favorite things is a Native American doll dressed in an intricate white crocheted dress and headband she made. It’s special to her because it reminds her of her heritage; her father was one-fourth Cherokee.