The mother of a quadriplegic student who attended every class with her son and took his notes while he pursued his Master of Business Administration (MBA) was awarded with an honorary MBA by his university.
Judy O’Connor, a retired elementary-school teacher, pushed her son Marty in his wheelchair for him to receive his degree during commencement Saturday at Chapman University in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange.
Then a choked-up graduation announcer said that the school’s faculty, administrators and board of trustees had decided to give her an MBA. The idea for the surprise honorary degree came from her son.
A stunned but composed Judy O’Conner received a standing ovation.
“I’m a geek; I love being in school,” she said before the ceremony. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Marty O’Connor received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and was working as a salesman for a packaging-industry company in 2012 when he fell down a flight of stairs and was paralyzed.
“After I got hurt, I didn’t know which end was up. I didn’t really have a direction,” Marty O’Connor said in a story on the school’s website. “I needed that mental challenge and wanted to add some professional value to myself.”
His mother was living in Florida but moved to Southern California to help her son do his MBA.
He uses an iPad, laptop, voice-recognition software and a special mouth stylus to communicate, but could not take notes or write the answers to tests. His mother did that for him.