Many people know Lily Ramirez today as an accomplished swim champion, former children’s swimming instructor, community volunteer, and aspiring criminal law professional. But a couple of incidents back in college at the University of Florida in 2011 could have taken her on a different path. Faced with some tough choices, Ramirez instead took responsibility for her poor choices, apologized, and then refocused on a new goal: graduating from law school. Here’s more from Lily herself:
Like most people, I have had great successes and made stupid mistakes; I was an elite level swimmer and Olympic hopeful, but also made errors in judgment that I deeply regret. It is both the spectacular successes and mistakes that have made me a better person – one who is determined, resilient, and committed to achieve greatness.
But my successes in swimming don’t make up for the troubles I faced in other parts of my life; ones that I have worked doubly hard to overcome. In the face of adversity, I once fell. Struggling with depression and an identity crisis, I made extremely poor choices and was arrested twice during my junior year at UF.
I am, however, a different person because of these incidents. I took the sum of my talents, my achievements, and my failures, applied the lessons I learned, and graduated from the University of Florida a changed person. I was determined to make something out of my story, and that is why I decided to go to law school. I applied for law school the year after I graduated from college, and at the end of 2012, I was accepted and then committed to attend the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Swimming was such a pivotal part of my life, but away from the cool waters and taxing practices, I was determined to maintain a relentless desire to settle for nothing less than excellence in all that I do.
The drive and desire I developed as a swimmer, which kept me afloat through my most trying time, led me to Denver to begin my legal career as a law student. Having learned from personal experience that the legal system can change lives, I worked day in and day out in law school to become the best attorney I could be, and had high hopes that one day I too could change someone’s life for the better.
In May 2016, I graduated from Denver Sturm College of Law. After graduation I dedicated myself to studying for the bar. While studying for the bar, I pushed and challenged myself to a level that I had never experienced before. I sat for the bar in July of 2016, and on October 6, 2016 my life changed forever. On that day I found out that I had passed the bar; I was a real licensed attorney. Passing the bar and becoming an attorney presented my next chance to confirm what I stand for – work ethic and a dedication to the betterment of the legal community. I am currently clerking for a federal judge at the United States District Court of Colorado, and starting next September, I will begin as an associate at an insurance defense firm.
Although I have passed the bar and have a job lined up, something that I still struggle with is the negative publicity that surrounds my arrests online. I know that I will always have to deal with my past arrests and the news articles available online for any job that I am working at; however, I can now confidently say that those articles do not define me. I will absolutely face obstacles as a result of them, but my story from here on out is my own hands. Only I have the power to make something out of it. I have learned to own my mistakes and be very forthright with people from the beginning. Every employer that I have worked for in law school is aware of my background, and one of the most rewarding moments was when I was hired at a firm because of my honesty regarding it. After my arrest, I promised to turn my life around and to never get in trouble with the law again; I am proud to now say that I have done this. I hope that my story is a motivation to other athletes and individuals that have once fallen. My message is to never give up; make something of your story.