Most mothers will do just about anything for their children, and one mom proved this when she moved across the country to help her quadriplegic son achieve his goal of earning his Masters of Business Administration degree. She attended every class with her son in order to take notes, and she even earned an honorary degree this past weekend at Chapman University in California.
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In 2012, Marty O’Connor achieved his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, tragedy struck when Marty fell down a flight of stairs and was left paralyzed. He spent the next two years working on his body in physical therapy, but he still felt mentally lost.
Once he decided he wanted to go back to school to get his MBA, his mother Judy, who was a school teacher in Florida, left her job and moved to California to help her son achieve this new goal he had set for himself.
Marty was fairly self-sufficient in his studies as he used voice recognition software and other aids, but he wasn’t able to take notes or write out his test answers on written tests. That’s when his mother stepped in to help.
A writer for the school’s blog wrote a piece on Judy a month before graduation in which Judy explained that she had actually enjoyed her time with her son and being at school again. “I’m a geek. I love being in school,” she said. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
At graduation last weekend, Judy pushed her 29-year-old son across the stage in a wheelchair to receive his diploma. Before they left the stage, Judy was acknowledged by the school as a “special individual.”
The announcer told the crowd that the board of trustees had decided to give Judy an honorary degree as well. “Mrs. Judith O’Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty,” the announcer told the crowd. “She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career.”
The idea of his mom getting the degree was Marty’s doing. He spoke to administrators beforehand and got their approval. Judy, who was surprised and taken aback, modestly waved to the crowd and blew them a kiss. “I was just so excited for her because she deserved it so much,” Marty said after graduation.
Judy didn’t do it for the degree; she did it for her son. “As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things,” Judy told KTLA. “I always believed in him. I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back.”