Marty O’Connor has been paralyzed from the neck down for the past five years. For the past two years, he’s attended classes at Chapman University, with his mother, Judy, constantly by his side as his official note taker.
Judy was once again by her son’s side, pushing his wheelchair across the stage as he graduated with an MBA. But a special announcement was about to be made. Choking back tears, the announcer called out a “special individual,” and described the decision of the faculty, administration and board of trustees to award Judy O’Connor an honorary degree. The announcer said, “Mrs. Judith O’Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty. She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career.”
Judy was caught completely off guard, and Marty suggested himself that his mother should receive the degree. He said, “I was just so excited for her because she deserved it so much.” While Marty used voice recognition software and other aids, his mom was there to take notes and hand-write test answers for him, and she loved very minute of it. “As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things. I always believed in him. I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back. I’m a geek. I love being in school. I’m not going to lie. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”