Hugs, tears and redemption in a Palm Beach County courtroom
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The courtroom looks a lot different for Veronica Limia today than when she first saw it.
"I traveled through the system, I was a typical, angry, young teen fighting all the time and doing stuff like that," said Limia.
More than a decade ago, she had to appear before Judge Ronald Alvarez. He had reason to be in a stern mood, then.
"Finally, at 17, was charged with burglary and grand larceny, and I was direct filed and charged as an adult and sent to the county jail," said Limia.
Judge Alvarez sentenced her to 18 months behind bars.
Fast forward 13 years and Limia today was sworn in as an attorney, by Judge Alvarez.
"Its an incredible moment not for me and Veronica, but for all the kids that come into this system, that there is hope," said Alvarez.
He pushed her to succeed, making her write him letters three times a week about her progress.
"I never give up on my kids, they may give up on themselves but I never give up on them," said Alvarez.
With the help of a softball scholarship, Limia made her way to Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, before transferring to FIU in Miami to be closer to home. She finished school last year.
Because of her criminal record, Limia needed and won a special dispensation from the Florida Bar to become an attorney.
Her mom looked on with pride.
"I thought I had lost her and she's come back strong, little by little, every year its just amazing," said Kimberly Hill.
Limia plans to pay forward all the help she got---by working to keep kids out of trouble. As for her mentor?
"I do plan after i've been practicing long enough to take a shot at the bench so when Judge Alvarez retires he'll have somebody carrying his torch," said Limia.