Aurora Smalls has a cool, calm and collected demeanor that is reflected in her actions with her family, co-workers and others she comes into contact with in her daily life.

The Orangeburg resident has worked for Orangeburg County as a systems analyst for the past 13 years. Making sure computer systems are working properly and helping others to do the same is not always easy, but she holds her good communication skills in high regard.

Smalls’ ability to control her behavior and work toward a common goal has earned her the community’s recognition as the exemplification of self-control. She was recognized as part of Orangeburg County’s Community of Character initiative.

It was an honor that took Smalls by surprise.

“I was just shocked that somebody noticed that I had any self-control, but I do a lot of customer service with my job. I have to have a lot of patience to explain what can be done because people don’t always ask for what you have the ability to do. You have to keep them calm and let them know that you are working on the situation,” she said.

Technology is not perfect and systems fail, but Smalls said she is dedicated to displaying professionalism amid the confusion and frustration that can result.

“Sometimes a person is just not sure how to get something done, and they want you to hold their hand to get it done. They’ve done a lot of things, and it doesn’t seem to help. But self-control is the ability to control your emotions. I’d say it comes from my mother telling me to make sure to treat people the way you want to be treated,” she said.

She is the daughter of Camilla Kelly and Hubert Kelly Sr. and her siblings include one sister, Felisa, and two brothers, Maurice and Hubert Jr.

“Sometimes people can call and ask you the same thing quite a few times. But you have to remember it could be you asking that question. Sometimes you’re maybe not listening to exactly what they want, too. You may have to ask them a lot of questions and they get impatient, so the main thing is to keep them calm,” Smalls said.

Losing your temper just isn’t worth the effort, she said.

“You might have to go back to that person for something. They’ll be hesitant about helping you and when you look back on the situation, sometimes it just wasn’t really worth the effort of getting upset,” Smalls said. “A lot of times I’ve gone to places and recognized folks. They remember you, and you always want it to be a good memory.

“That makes you feel better when they say, ‘I remember when you helped me do so and so.’”

She recalled when someone hit her truck one day while she was out eating. While she could have caused a ruckus about the matter, she said she didn’t and has had no regrets since.

“He gave me his insurance information but when I looked at it, I said, ‘It’s an accident and it’s not that big.’ I finally called him back and said, ‘Don’t worry about it because it’s just a little dent,’” Smalls said.

She went on to receive free repair work for a broken front fender — a much bigger problem — which resulted from a subsequent collision. She said her good fortune came from not sweating the small things in life.

“It really wasn’t worth his money and my time anyway,” Smalls said.

She has two daughters, Alanna, 14, and Taylor, 12, with her husband, Julian. She tries to teach her daughters good character.

“I try to instill that they treat people the way they want to be treated, to be kind and friendly. If they treat everyone the way they want to be treated, they won’t have to worry about somebody being mean to them. It’s hard sometimes because you still lose control. A lot of times, I try to walk away from situations and then come back,” Smalls said.

Smalls said she is a work in progress.

“I’m a lot better than what I used to be. It did not happen overnight. It doesn’t mean I don’t respond back to people, but I don’t argue with people. If I see that it’s going to cause conflict, I’ll just hold my tongue and wait until they calm down,” she said. “My dad is a calm person until you make him mad, and I guess I learned to kind of walk away from him. That’s just how he is.”

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-533-5534.

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