Leaders are not perfect humans beings, mistakes and situations of hardship are part of their evolution. The story of Petra Vela started in 1823 and countless women then and now shared a story like hers. Hard working, courageous, and persistent are key characteristic of her persona. Petra move to Corpus Christi at the age of 59 years old and also married to Mifflin Kennedy, people little or nothing knew about her. Leaders of a community like Petra are better known by the legends and myths that people create for them than by real facts. Ana Carolina Castillo Crimm author of the essay Petra Vela and The Kenedy Family Legacy describe in detailed the begging of a humble woman that had to face a lot of adversity in her life to ultimately became as Crimm described as “The grande dame of Corpus Christi” (De Leon 57). Petra’s integrity, knowledge, and compassion make her a great leader for the Corpus Christy community.
In Petra’s conditions was probably hard to keep the integrity of her persona. Petra had to struggle with being a single mom of several children, abandonment of her first husband, and the determination of wanting the best for her offspring moving all over the map searching for better opportunities for them. Petra worked hard to keep her unpretentious job as a maid and be able to provide for her offspring. After, she married Kenedy she kept true to herself, even though she was introduce to another social-economic level she never forgot where she came from. Thomas Cronin in his speech about leadership named Thinking About Leadership he said “People can see through a counterfeit or phony. Respect and responsibility generally migrate to those who are fair, compassionate and care about the values, beliefs and feelings of others.” (Cronin 8) The author expressed the characteristics that surround Petra when she became the grande dame of Corpus Christi. Reasons of why she is still remembered, the compassion and loved that she devote for her religion. Crimm says in her essay referring to Petra’s memory “Petra dedicated to her Catholic religion, lives on in the lovely bells and the stained glass windows of the churches at Brownsville and Corpus Christi, churches that she supported and help create.” (De Leon 57) The History probably will never give her the credit that she deserve for being one of the first builders of South Texas.
Knowledge is a characteristic that is develop with time and experiences. Leaders cannot learn “knowledge” they have to live through it like Petra. Probably another story will be hers if all those legends and myth about her were true. It is possible that if Petra was millionaire and aristocrat since the begging of her life her involvement with her community and church would be different than the one we know. Cronin says in his speech “Leadership divorced from important purposes becomes manipulation, deception and in the extreme, is not leadership at all, but repression and tyranny. Thus, a leader is responsible for concentrating on the vital, the significant problems and challenges.” (Cronin 4) Others would be Petra’s intentions and goals with her community if she could not related to them as she was because of her previous experiences.
Created the sense of community and solidarity that Petra created for her people would not be possible without all the struggles that she went through her youth. The environment that she set up for her offspring for them to be able of use those opportunities that she never had until later in time. That is the perfect sustainable system that parents and leaders want for children and followers.