April 16, 2009
of different drum
A Byhalia couple are proud parents after their son, Wesley Clayton Smithey, graduated divers school at the young age of 18. He is already employed with a diving company.
Wesley and Vickie Smithey are pleased with their son Clayton because he made educational decisions that put him in a job almost right out of high school.
Clayton attended Olive Branch High School but spent his junior and senior year in homeschool through Gateway Christian Academy where he graduated early with an “A” average.
“Then at only 18 years old, and having never been away alone, we took him to New Jersey where the school (Divers Academy International) had arranged for him a place to stay,” said Vickie Smithey. “He was in a very intensive five-day a week, full-time school and graduated receiving an academic excellence award. It makes us proud that he has made his mind up to be somebody and make a solid career for himself.”
As a certified diver, Clayton will see a lot of the world as he works on underwater projects in major rivers and other bodies of water around the country.
He explained his unusual choices which included scrapping a college degree and an opportunity to go into the Navy.
‘I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do for a career and I got accepted to the University of Memphis,” he said. “I decided there wasn’t really anything there for me and I really liked the water all my life, so I looked it up and figured I would give it a try. It was hit or miss, really. And luckily, it hit.”
Clayton was already a swimmer, having taken to the water and learned to swim early. A likely choice would have been to join the U.S. Navy, but Clayton didn’t want to make a long-term commitment.
“The Navy had many nice benefits that I would have liked but they wanted me to sign up for six years, which was a little longer than I would like,” he said.
At the diving school, Clayton was certified in ANSI-ACDE commercial diving and also obtained 10 additional certifications including First Aid/CPR, Oxygen Provider, and API-RP2D Rigging.
Clayton said he is surprised a little that his parents were so supportive of his making such a non-traditional career move by going directly for training in a trade.
“My parents supported me from the get-go, which was good since I thought they would think I was crazy for wanting to do this,” he said.
His dad has been an inspiration to him, he said.
Vickie Smithey continued, "We are proud he will be able to travel and see the world, if that’s his choice,” she said. “And we look around at all the kids getting out of college who can’t find jobs and he was out three weeks and now works for a reputable diving company that has divers dispatched throughout the United States. He is a very bright young man with a very bright future.”
Wesley Smithey said Clayton’s successful decisions are an answer to prayers.
“We have been praying for Clayton and our other children since we became Christians in our mid-30s,” he said. “My prayer for Clayton has been that he would have faith in Chirst and that he would grow up to be an honest, hardworking man who would lead and provide for his family.
“I believe (as scripture says) ‘whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you will receive it and it will be yours.’ I am confident this is just the beginning of answered prayers and the wonderful things God has in store for our son. We have accepted all of our children for who they are, blessings from our Father in heaven.”
Clayton said he will be working a lot in the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio rivers and in other rivers and lakes around the country. He has settled in an apartment in Murray, Kentucky, where his company is headquartered so he can be close at hand when he gets the call to an assignment.
Vickie Smithey works for the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce and Wesley is a leased driver for Lindsey Transport in Memphis, Tenn. He hauls jet and diesel fuel in and around the Tri-State area.
The Smitheys are the parents of three children including Clayton. Their daughter Jessica Whittington, 25, is a dedicated wife and mother whose husband is serving a second tour in Iraq.
Danielle Smithey, 20, is a licensed beautician and works for a private shop in Olive Branch.
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