Judy O’Connor had no idea a surprise awaited her when she pushed her son, who uses a wheelchair, onto a stage at the commencement at Chapman University on Saturday.
As she stepped back to let her son, Marty, have his moment — he was receiving his M.B.A. — a dean kept her on stage. It was then announced that she had been awarded an honorary M.B.A. degree. An emotional Ms. O’Connor blew a kiss, and the crowd was on its feet.
“I was totally blown away,” Ms. O’Connor, a retired elementary schoolteacher, said on Wednesday. “I had no idea what was happening.”
“Then I heard my name on the loud speaker,” she said. “It was a total surprise.”
Ms. O’Connor, who has a business degree from Notre Dame, has been by her son’s side, literally, throughout every one of his classes at Chapman, a Los Angeles-area private school. She took all of his notes and typed for him when necessary, Ms. O’Connor said. But their collaboration extended to their home as well.