Ruiz, '25, finds balance on and off the track

30 Jun 2023    

Cortez Ruiz, '24, runs on a track.

In the early hours of the morning, you're off to Memorial Stadium to lift weights and eat breakfast. Then over to East Campus for class in the morning. Study for a few hours and attend another class in the afternoon, unless it’s a day with a noon pool workout. After that, on to Innovation Campus for track practice and dinner. Finally, head home to study for the rest of the night. 

This is a typical spring day for Cortez Ruiz, ’25. Ruiz competed with the Nebraska Track and Field team this spring as they took home the Big Ten Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship for the first time since 2016. At this year's Drake Relays, his group won the 4x800 - something a team from Nebraska hadn't done in 27 years. 

Amidst these athletic feats, Ruiz still has to fulfill the expectations of any law student. He knows that in order to do both - and do them well - he must maximize his time and schedule everything to a tee. 

“Every half hour is planned,” he said. “I like being efficient, it takes away a lot of the stress.” 

As busy as his schedule can get, Ruiz recognizes the importance of taking care of your mind and body. Amidst his daily routine, he prioritizes a strict 8 hours of sleep. 

“You need energy to perform at your best,” he said. 

Ruiz ran track as an undergrad at BYU and was given an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic but wasn’t sure if he would be able to juggle athletics and law school simultaneously. Upon starting his 1L year, he found that the support of the faculty was crucial. 

“Everyone has always been really supportive of me,” he said. “That’s Nebraska." 

They were invested in his success and eager to help. When he would have to miss class due to travel or competitions, professors would send recordings of their classes and lectures. 

Ruiz never expected to live in the Midwest. He’d never even been to Nebraska before submitting his application. But upon moving here, he found that the flexibility, care, and support he felt from the College of Law made life as a student-athlete much less complicated. 

“Another reason why Nebraska was meant to be is that it probably wouldn’t happen this smoothly at another law school,” he said. 

Although Ruiz will no longer compete with the Nebraska Track and Field team, he's nowhere near the end of his journey as an athlete. He said he'll continue to focus on his physical health while trying to decide what field of law to go into. Fluent in Russian and Spanish, he hopes to use his skills to help people from other countries. For now, he's keeping his options open. 

"I'm learning quite a bit and taking it one step at a time," he said.