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Lauren Dawkins believes first impressions are lasting impressions.

Whether as a senior loan officer, or in her current role as a Realtor at Century 21 The Moore Group, Dawkins places emphasis on maintaining a genuine spirit of goodwill in her speech and in her treatment of others.

It is her commitment to upholding polite standards that has earned Dawkins designation as the exemplification of good manners for the month of January as part of Orangeburg County's Community of Character Initiative.

It is an honor for which she said she is thankful.

"I am extremely flattered and pleasantly surprised that I've been chosen for this honor by the community. Even at my age, it's flattering to know … that my parents' guidance and teachings from a young child continue to show and be appreciated by others. I thank everyone that was responsible," Dawkins said.

"Good manners really speak a lot about a person's persona, their upbringing and how they treat others," she said. "How they support and give to others pretty much gives an insight into one's nature and capabilities. You're basically judged not just on an outwardly aspect, but in the way that you treat others respectfully."

Dawkins has been with Century 21 The Moore Group for nearly eight years. Scoring a second interview with clients depends largely on practicing good manners, she said.

"With regards to your business, it could basically set or break you. First impressions are a good thing. I always believe in what I call being a polite professional. I believe you can achieve your desired goals if you deal with things on a professional level, especially in a polite way," she said.

Dawkins is the daughter of longtime Orangeburg businessman Lamar Dawkins Sr. and the late Loretta Dawkins, both of whom taught her and her brother and two sisters the value of practicing good manners in life, she said. Her brother, Lamar Dawkins Jr., is a physician in Orangeburg; her sister, Penny, is a pharmacist in Columbia, and another sister, Lisa, is a teacher in Columbia.

"My mother always had an important emphasis on teaching her children what I would consider impeccable manners, including being totally respectful to your elders. She always felt that a person with good manners was … a polished human being, and all of us need to look at that type of person in a more appreciative light," she said, noting that children who are constantly encouraged to practice good manners, including saying please and thank you, appear to be more confident.

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"I believe it is important to lay emphasis on teaching our children impeccable manners … . Naturally, it creates a good first impression, and I just believe adults and children with good manners come across as more self-assured and confident since they find their voice a little bit easier. It's just so important in your growth," Dawkins said.

She is the mother of two: Taylor, a ninth-grader at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and David, a fifth-grader at Felton Laboratory School.

Taylor and David have achieved recognition of their own, with Taylor being honored by the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce for displaying good character as part of the Community of Character initiative. David has also been honored for displaying the character trait of courtesy at his school.

"I've tried to build on my children's self confidence and self esteem and encourage them to be honest and trustworthy," Dawkins said. "I try to encourage them to treat all people the same, but to look at everybody as an individual."

T&D Staff Writer Dionne Gleaton can be reached by e-mail at dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or by phone at 803-533-5534. Discuss this and other stories online at TheTandD.com.

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