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 ‘Behind the Screens: The People of OIT’ is a series that features the people working hard behind the scenes to make OIT run.

Position: IT Analyst    

Time spent with OIT: 28 years

Sheri Tibbs is no stranger to OIT, having been a part of OIT for nearly all its existence. Those who have worked with or interacted with Sheri know she works diligently to support Duke and the local community, always accompanied by a positive attitude and a can of Diet Coke.

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Sheri and a friend pose at the annual OIT Block Party.

What she does for OIT:
In her role, Sheri helps design and develop numerous websites for the university. While many of the websites were developed to support staff members, some are student-facing or faculty-facing as well. A Code+ Project Lead every summer, she supports Feed Every Devil (FED) and FixIt—two Code+ projects.

One of Sheri’s big responsibilities is Scholars@Duke.

“It basically aggregates faculty information so that you can look at a profile for a faculty member, and data is pulled together from a lot of systems like grants, publications, information from SAP about their professional interests, and so forth,” Sheri said.

What she enjoys most about working in OIT:
As an IT analyst, Sheri works alongside a team she describes as an exceptionally talented group of people.

“I have to run every day to keep up with the people I’m working with, but the benefit of it outweighs how hard it is,” Sheri said.

Along with pushing her to grow professionally, Sheri appreciates how her colleagues affect her personally.

“I feel like you absorb the general zeitgeist of the people you’re surrounded by,” Sheri said. “I’m so grateful that I’m surrounded by people who have traits and characteristics that I would want to absorb.”

Advice for those new to OIT:
Just as Sheri enjoys her connection with her colleagues and benefits from it, she encourages others to try to connect fellow OIT employees. While she often finds herself tempted to work remotely, she mused that there might come a day when we look back on the years when we had more in-person interactions and be nostalgic for it.

“I think there’s something intangible and important about being with people,” Sheri said. “I have a philosophy that work is more or less an excuse for people to get together and have things to work on together. We’re just here to help each other, and if you think of it this way, it makes work more enjoyable.”

Along with urging those new to OIT to connect with their colleagues, Sheri encourages everyone to invest into their 403B accounts, adding, “You’re leaving money behind if you don’t contribute at least a little!”

The impact she hopes to have:
As someone who enjoys being around people, it probably comes as no surprise that Sheri takes an interest in helping the local community. During Code+ last summer, she was peripherally involved with students on a project to support the Museum of Durham History.

While this is one example of OIT supporting the community, Sheri was inspired by the thought of this project launching OIT into the role of contributing more to the Durham community. Working with such skilled colleagues and knowing the talent within OIT, she envisions OIT serving the community in an even larger capacity.

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Sheri and a Code+ program student pose together.

A story she’s currently following:
Have you heard about Taylor Swift and her blossoming relationship with Travis Kelce? Sheri is not a Swiftie, nor is she a Kansas City Chiefs fan, but she’s a big fan of Taylor and Travis’ love story.

“He’s just so open and unashamed about his affection for her,” Sheri said. “They’re so honest about their relationship with one another!”

What she’s doing when she’s not at work:
While following the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce love story is enough to keep most occupied, Sheri also enjoys spending her free time behind the pottery wheel. Through this hobby, she has learned to accept the flaws in her creations and focus more on the act of creating pottery rather than the final product.

“I’m at the wheel, and I’m really in the moment,” Sheri said. “It doesn’t matter how flawed they are, I still love them.”

One of Sheri’s goals is to replace every manufactured bowl in her house with one of her handmade bowls.

“Every single inch of each piece I create has been loved and formed, not just manufactured.”

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Sheri's handmade pottery of a creature's head.

When she’s not throwing pottery or firing up the kiln, Sheri loves spending time with her son, Jack. Although he lives in Virginia, he comes to spend time with her most weekends.

“Jack is my center,” Sheri said. “He’s the star of my life. He’s hardworking, and he’s a good, kind person.”

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Sheri and her son Jack smile for a picture.

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Know someone in OIT with a story worth sharing? Nominate them (or yourself!) by emailing kaylee.wilkinson@duke.edu.