May 8, 2018

Actress and VSU Alum Pauley Perrette Establishes Criminal Justice Scholarship

VALDOSTA — Actress and Valdosta State University alumna Pauley Perrette has established the Pauley Perrette Scholarship to benefit female students majoring in criminal justice.

Perrette, best known for playing the quirky, brilliant forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on the hit CBS show “NCIS,” said the character of Abby inspired her to create the Pauley Perrette Scholarship.

“… [Abby] has inspired young women around the world,” said Perrette, who studied sociology, psychology, and criminal science at VSU and graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and criminal science. “… For 16 years, Abby has raised these young girls, and now they have fully completed their degrees in forensic science and in (science, technology, engineering, and math) categories, and they’re working in the field because of the inspiration of a fictional television character. That is just outstanding.”

After deciding to leave “NCIS” after 15 seasons with the show, Perrette said the Pauley Perrette Scholarship is a way to ensure Abby and her inspiration “lives on forever.” 

“… That makes Abby immortal because if young people via this scholarship actually go and become more little Abbys out there, then she literally does live forever and so does her influence, and in a real-life way.”

Perrette originally planned to become a crime fighter until she started acting, a career choice that has led her to become the most-liked actress on television, according to recent rankings from The Q Scores Company, which measures consumer appeal of celebrities.

As a student at VSU, she said she developed “a pure dedication to excellence” that has benefited her throughout her acting career.

“All I did was study and study and study,” she said. “I wanted to make straight As. I loved learning. I have such a love of higher education. 

“I would memorize my textbooks and memorize my notes, and I would rewrite them in spiral notebooks over and over and over again to the point where at one point — which was horrifying, now it’s funny — I knew everything on one of my big exams. I knew everything verbatim, word-for-word, and because I studied so hard I got accused of cheating.

“Being that diligent when I was there about my studies is exactly how I’m able to play Abby and every other role, but especially Abby because Abby is such a difficult role with all of the science terminology. I took the exact same route as far as learning my lines. I take my script. I take a spiral notebook. I write it over and over and over again in my spiral notebook, and by the time I get on set, I know it all. It’s exactly what I did in college.”

Perrette said she established great relationships with many VSU professors, especially Dr. Chester Ballard, professor of sociology.

“Pauley loved the camera even all that time ago,” Ballard said. “When we were doing oral presentations, she wanted to run the camera and videotape things. She had that interest, you could tell.

“She was bright, high energy, curious, and easy to teach. She is one of my favorite students across my 32 years of teaching at Valdosta State.”

Perrette’s advice to VSU students who will study criminal justice through the Pauley Perrette Scholarship is to “never, ever let it be lost on you what a privilege getting an education is. … Take advantage of it. Work hard. Learn everything you can. Dedicate yourself to it.

“I got an excellent education at Valdosta State, and I encourage young people all the time … if they don’t understand why higher education is so important, it’s not only the information that you get and what you learn. It’s also the process of accomplishment — of starting something, dedicating yourself to it, and finishing it.”