Mom Goes to Grad School Every Day With Her Son -- & It Ends Beautifully

Marty O'Connor and mom graduationChapman University/FacebookIt's an incredibly special moment for all parents when their child earns a degree, particularly if there were challenges along the way. But when Judy O'Connor's quadriplegic son Marty received his MBA, the moment was perhaps even more special than most: The mom did so much to help him graduate that she was rewarded with an honorary degree of her own. She, of course, thinks she was just doing what moms do.


Five years ago, 29-year-old Marty O'Connor was working as a traveling salesman with a degree from the University of Colorado and a promising career. Then he fell down a flight of stairs, sustaining spinal cord injuries that left him unable to use his limbs. 

"After I got hurt, I didn't know which end was up," he said in an interview with Chapman University, from where he received his MBA. "I didn't really have a direction. I was just dedicating myself to physical therapy five days a week."

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Eventually he began to adjust to his physical state, but mentally, he said, he was "just kind of lost." Looking for a challenge and a way to "add professional value" to himself, he started researching MBA programs -- even though he didn't know how he was going to go back to school when he couldn't even write or raise his hand. So his mom Judy, who was working in Florida as a teacher at the time, made the selfless decision to move across the country and do everything she could to help her son achieve his goal. And achieve it he did:

"I couldn't have my own child needing me, doing a job at the same time," she told KTLA

After helping Marty research programs and scholarship opportunities, Judy spent the next two years attending classes with her son at Chapman University in Orange, California. While Marty had tools like voice-recognition software and a special mouth stylus to help him communicate, he still wasn't able to take notes or write answers to tests, so Judy did all of that for him.

In short, Judy sacrificed everything to be there for her son, which is why he decided to nominate her for an honorary degree.

"It is impossible to not notice that kind of effort and dedication that she was showing in helping me prepare," Marty told the Huffington Post.

We absolutely agree! Still, Judy herself said she was "blown away" to be pulled to the front of the stage during Marty's graduation ceremony to receive the honor. (Did we mention the degree was a surprise??)

"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."

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Judy pushed Marty down the aisle in his wheelchair and the ceremony was, of course, incredibly emotional (as is the entire story). Even the announcer got choked up ... as, we assume, everybody else in the audience probably did, and you will, too:

Clearly, her faith is what got Marty through one of the most difficult times in his life -- to the point where he's now absolutely thriving and living a life that would be an accomplishment for anyone. This story is proof not only that a mother's love knows no bounds, but that there's no obstacle that families can't face -- and overcome! -- together. 

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