Mom gets a degree, too, after attending every grad class with quadriplegic son

Judy O'Connor and her son Marty pose on graduation day.

Story highlights

  • Honorary degree for her was a surprise from her son
  • An accident left him unable to use his arms and legs

(CNN)Like so many parents, Judy O'Connor was filled with pride when her son earned an MBA.

What she didn't know was that she was getting a degree, too.
Marty O'Connor graduated Saturday with a master's degree in business administration from Chapman University in Orange, California. An accident a few years ago left him a quadriplegic, reliant on voice-recognition software and other aids -- and unable to take notes or write answers to tests.
    So his mother went to every class with him, scribbling down notes and helping out however she could.
    "As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things," Judy O'Connor, a retired school teacher, told CNN affiliate KTLA. "I always believed in him. I knew he could do it, and I just wanted to have his back."
    Turns out her son had her back, too. At his graduation, O'Connor wheeled her son across the stage. Then she was recognized as a "special individual" and awarded an honorary MBA of her own as the crowd cheered.
    And it was all her son's idea.
    "I was just so excited for her," Marty O'Connor said, "because she deserved it so much."