Mom Receives Honorary Degree After Helping Quadriplegic Son Graduate

A mother who spent the last two years helping her son get his MBA after a fall left him a quadriplegic was recognized for her incredible work on Saturday in one of the most touching ways.

Judy O?Connor, who took notes and attended classes with her 29-year-old son, Marty O?Connor, received an honorary degree during a graduation ceremony at Chapman University in Orange, California. It came just moments after helping her son receive his degree on stage.

?Mrs. Judith O?Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty,? the announcer, who appeared to choke up, told the crowd. ?She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career.?

Judy O?Connor later told KTLA she was astonished to be pulled to the front of the stage. ?I was totally blown away. I was trying to stay in the background,? she said. ?As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things. I?ve always believed in him and I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back.?

Her son suggested the emotional presentation as a way to honor his mother?s self-sacrifice and joint participation in his studies, he told KTLA.

Nearly five years earlier, Marty O?Connor was working as a traveling salesman with a degree from the University of Colorado when he suffered a life-changing fall down a flight of stairs, he told the university in an interview.

?After I got hurt, I didn?t know which end was up,? he told the school. ?I didn?t really have a direction. I was just dedicating myself to physical therapy five days a week.?

?While my body was in a better place because of that, mentally, I was just kind of lost. ? I needed that mental challenge and wanted to add some professional value to myself,? he said.

At the time of his injury, his mother was working as a teacher in Florida. Knowing that her son was in such a difficult place ?was killing me,? she told KTLA. ?I couldn?t have my own child needing me, doing a job at the same time.?

She moved across the country to help her son, who began exploring MBA programs, leading to a scholarship opportunity.

In the beginning, he admitted, it was quite a daunting challenge.

?I didn?t know how going back to school without being able to write, or use my hands, or raise my hand in class, any of that, would go,? he told the school. ?This has really forced upon me some patience and thoughtfulness in everything I?m doing. And I?m now doing better in school than I have in my entire life.? 

As for what the future holds, KTLA reported that Marty O?Connor plans to work for a sports startup company raising corporate sponsorship money. He?ll be aided by a professional assistant, the school said. His mom plans to take some well-deserved time off and rest.

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