From Undecided Major to Top of Class at Villanova Law School

Lebanon Valley College neuroscience graduate Peyton Carper graduated at the top of her law school class.

Peyton Carper ’16 arrived at LVC as a women’s basketball recruit, undecided on a major, and looking forward to studying a wide variety of subjects to discover her passion. It was a class on logic that clarified her path and set her career in motion. 

“That way of thinking just made sense to me and the way my brain operated,” said Carper, who graduated with a degree in neuroscience. “After that class I remember being told that I should consider the law and society minor. Subsequently, taking these classes is what pushed me to go to law school.”

Recently, Carper graduated at the top of her class of 2016 students at Villanova University’s Law School. She received Summa Cum Laude and Order of the Coif honors. 

Carper will begin a judicial clerkship with Vice Chancellor Tamika Montgomery-Reeves of the Delaware Court of Chancery. Over the next two years, she will conduct legal research and draft memoranda and court opinions.

Preparing for a career in corporate litigation, she is excited about the opportunity to clerk at one of the nation’s top courts. According to its website, “The Delaware Court of Chancery is widely recognized as the nation's preeminent forum for the determination of disputes involving the internal affairs of the thousands upon thousands of Delaware corporations and other business entities through which a vast amount of the world's commercial affairs is conducted.”

With mentorship from Dr. Philip Benesch, associate professor of politics and director of pre-law, Carper navigated the process of applying to law school.

“He supported me every step of the way, provided guidance, resources, and perhaps, most importantly, was always trying to connect me with alumni who were either in law school or graduates of law school,” she said. “In addition to Dr. Benesch, I truly felt that I had the support of many of the professors that I became close with. I appreciated how LVC professors genuinely cared about me and were interested in my future success. They were there for me not just to answer questions about assignments, but to share advice on graduate school and life.” 

Along with the faculty connections, Carper credits her neuroscience major and time as an LVC student-athlete with important law school skills such as rigorous courses, time management, organization, and disciplined study skills.

“When I was going into my first year of law school everyone told me it was going to be the worst year of my life, when in reality, it ended up being one of the best,” she said. “I have a clear memory of sitting in orientation, prior to the start of my first year, thinking ‘This is where I’m meant to be.’”

Carper recognizes that law students and lawyers are able to provide access to justice for underserved individuals and communities. 

“Some of my fondest memories of law school and my summer associate positions include the pro bono work I participated in,” said Carper, who also served as an articles editor on the Villanova Law Review. “Pro bono work is invaluable for both a student’s development into a lawyer and ensuring a more equitable society.”

Her pro bono experience included:

  • Wills For Heroes: drafting wills and powers of attorney for first responders.
  • Face to Face Birth Certificate Clinic: helping low-income individuals obtain birth certificates needed for housing, jobs, and public assistance.
  • Villanova Law School Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic: a community lawyering legal clinic representing low-wage workers and their families, and providing legal support for organizations working to empower immigrant workers.

As Carper embarks on the next phase of her journey, she reflects on her keys to success so far.

“LVC set me up for my career in law and gave me lifelong best friends,” she said. “While I never could have predicted I’d end up where I am, I can attribute my success to my wildly competitive nature as well as the unwavering support of family, friends, and mentors.”