Black History Month Series: Professional Practice Partner Pens Letter to Parents

Black History Month allows us intentional space to recognize the adversities and celebrate the accomplishments of Black individuals and communities throughout our country’s history.

This month, BDO’s Multicultural Alliance is hosting local and national events centered around dialogue, education, and exploration into the cultures and influential roles of Black Americans. As part of this learning experience, we invited professionals to share their perspectives through first-person letters, touching on their personal triumphs and the lessons learned along the way. 

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from Boston-based Professional Practice Partner Greg Turner, who joined BDO in April 2020 after working at another professional services firm and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Turner moved to the U.S. to attend college and has lived here ever since. He chose to write a letter of appreciation to his parents, thanking them for life lessons and the sacrifices they made so he could find personal and professional success.

Greg Turner with his parentsGreg Turner with his parents

To Mom and Dad,

When I reflect on my life’s journey, it wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling without your love, support and inspiration. You saw a path for me to succeed long before I could envision what I wanted my future to look like. 

Coming from a developing country, you had every reason to not pursue this difficult path of giving your son every opportunity to make a better life for himself. But instead, you made me your singular focus so that I could get the best education, have resources to succeed and opportunities to travel to see the benefits of life away from home.

Turner with his parents in JamaicaTurner with his parents in Jamaica

Mom, writing this letter takes me back to the days when we sent each other notes while you worked in the U.S. as a home aide and nurse assistant. It was sad when you could not be here for every holiday or birthday. But that short-term heartbreak turned into a long-term reward. Those summer trips to the U.S. to see you weren’t just cultural emersions, they are cherished memories. Do you recall when I slept on the couches in your patients’ homes while you looked after them? You may not know this, but I could see all your values in action ― a strong work ethic, selflessness and a drive to help others. You showed me what was possible. Like, that time I got into Fairfield University and I was worried, that even with a significant scholarship, we couldn’t afford the incremental cost. You told me, “If you want to go, we will figure it out.” And sure enough, we did. 

Dad, I am the man I am today because of you. Remember when you taught me to drive on those rough roads at home? I was pretty nervous. But you had a steady mind, even in stressful situations. I think I inherited your calmness later in life, especially as I learned to adjust to a new culture ― a predominately white college in New England and bitter winters (good thing we had those visits to Canada to mentally prepare me). I’ll also never forget those long drives to see family on the other side of the island ― three hours each way in our red Fiat Uno.

Turner with his now-wife, as well as his mother and father[From left to right] Turner with his now-wife, as well as his mother and father

Little did I know, I grew up a lot on those trips because I learned how to ask questions and learned to listen. I probably annoyed you with all my questions about … well … everything! You not only tolerated my curiosity, but you embraced it. That empowered my thirst for knowledge, and it still does to this day when I work on audits. You and Mom gave me the soft skills to thrive in high-pressure environments.

My upbringing may have been working class, but it was rich with gratitude. I can safely say my success is because of you, but I won’t stop making you proud. I’ll continue to talk to everyone the same, whether they are a janitor or a CEO. I promise to share these lessons with anyone who will listen. The only time I will take a break is when I pause to say how much you mean the world to me.