Back in 2012, two years after he earned his undergrad degree from Colorado University, Marty O’Connor fell down a flight of stairs, leaving him paralyzed and unable to do many of the things he had grown accustomed to before the accident. After the fall, Marty’s main focus was physical therapy. While that did help him heal physically, mentally he felt lost. Graduate school became a goal for him in his recovery.
Judith O’Connor attended every single class with her 29-year-old son to help him get his MBA at Chapman University. She took notes for him and helped him throughout his time in school working towards his Master’s.
He also earned a $10,00o scholarship through Swim With Mike. The organization was started in honor of USC American swimmer Mike Nyeholt, who was paralyzed by a motorcycle crash in 1981.
After the accident, Marty was able to use voice recognition and other aids to help him get through school, but he was unable to write notes or take handwritten tests. That’s where his mom came in. Judith O’Connor was down in Florida teaching at the time, but she moved up to Southern California to help her son finish school.
“As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things,” Judy O’Connor told KTLA. “I’ve always believed in him. I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back.”
When it finally came time for graduation O’Connor pushed her son across the stage. She was called out as a special individual and the crowd cheered in response.
The announcer started choking up as she read the decision by the faculty, administration, board of trustees and the suggestion of her son to award her the honorary degree.
“Mrs. Judith O’Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty,” the announcer said. “She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career.”
Receiving the degree was a surprise to Judith, but she took it with style and grace.
Congrats to the O’Connors! You both deserve it.