Judy O'Connor's 29-year-old son Marty became a quadriplegic after falling down a flight of stairs in 2012, two years after earning his undergrad degree from University of Colorado. On May 20, 2017, he earned his MBA from Chapman University's Argyros School of Business and Economics, an inspiring accomplishment that would not have been possible without the help of his mom Judy, who attended every single class with him to take notes.
Which is why, after Judy proudly pushed her son across the stage in his wheelchair at his graduation, the retired elementary school teacher was bestowed with a surprise honorary degree!
Such an amazing team!
Prior to his accident, Marty was traveling internationally as a salesman for a packaging industry firm. But his fall changed everything. He dedicated himself to physical therapy five days a week, but mentally, Marty said he felt lost. So he began exploring MBA programs and ended up at Chapman, where he used voice recognition software and a special stylus to help him tackle his studies. Still, he couldn't take notes or hand-write test answers.
So Judy took over. And while her honorary degree came as a surprise, the proud mama handled being the center of attention like a pro, posing for pics and blowing kisses to the crowd. Adding an even more lovely aspect to the story: The honor was Marty's idea as a thank-you to his wonderful mother.
"I'm a geek. I love being in school," she explained in a Chapman University blog post. "I'm not going to lie. I've enjoyed every minute of it."