ORANGE, California. – A Southern California university has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the mother of a quadriplegic student after she attended each class with him, and took his notes while he pursued his Master of Business Administration.
Judy O’connor, a retired elementary school teacher, pushed her son Marty in his wheelchair for him to receive his diploma at commencement Saturday at Chapman University in Los Angeles, a suburb of Orange.
Then a choked-up graduation announcer said that the school’s teachers, administrators, and the board had decided to give her a MBA. The idea for the surprise honorary doctorate came from her son.
A stunned but composed, Judy O’conner blew a kiss to the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
“I’m a geek. I love being in the school,” she said before the ceremony. “I’m not going to lie. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Marty O’connor received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and worked 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 what the end was. 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 lived 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 on the tests. So his mother did.