Lily Ramirez, Former University of Florida Swimmer, Turns Life Around After 2011 Incident

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.