Mom Receives an Honorary Degree After Helping Her Paralyzed Son Earn His M.B.A.

posted: 06/02/17
by: Blythe Copeland

This past week has been absolutely insane! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported @judyoc55 and I on this journey. We sincerely appreciate all of the congratulations we have received as well as the opportunity to share our experience with the world (literally). I never imagined this simple gesture would go viral but it just goes to show that supporting each other and showing gratitude where it's due still carries a lot of weight these days. I'm so blessed to have such an amazing family and support structure and I could not have done it without them. Be sure to check us out bright and early tomorrow on @foxandfriends around 850am EST (sorry West Coast). #foxandfriends #foxnews #chapmanu #chapmanuniversity #mocprogress #swimwithmike #makeamartygreatagain

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When Marty O'Connor received his M.B.A. from Chapman University this May, it was a moment when any mom would be proud: O'Connor had started the program looking for "an intellectual challenge" after a workplace accident in 2012 left him paralyzed. But O'Connor's mother, Judy, had another reason to celebrate: After attending all of her son's classes with him, the school surprised her with an honorary M.B.A.

"I was totally blown away," Judy O'Connor told The New York Times of the moment when they called her name, after she pushed her son in his wheelchair up to receive his diploma. "I had no idea what was happening."

Marty had gone behind her back three months before to coordinate the surprise with the university's president, insisting that everyone involved keep the secret from his mom -- who had joined him in class, taken notes, put together study guides, and helped him review the materials at home. "How he kept it a secret from me, I do not know," his mother said, "because I help him with his cell phone. It was really a covert operation."

The university president released a statement saying, "The dedication from both Marty and his mother in his pursuit for a master's in business administration is nothing short of admirable," while a Champan spokeswoman summed up the O'Connors' determination and dedication this way: "He's been saying over and over, 'Your circumstances are not your sentence.'"