Hallie and Sydney Pellerin: Twin Crimefighters

Tony Simmons

Two graduate students, twin crimefighters, will walk the commencement stage together in May on their way to a future of “serving and saving” as-yet-unknown strangers.
For sisters Hallie and Sydney Pellerin, both 23 years old, their master’s degrees in Law Enforcement Intelligence (LEI) will be about adding value to the world.
“The ultimate goal is to help people. That is a core value of mine,” said Sydney, who is younger than her sister by one minute. “LEI is a great way to advocate for others. … It means having an impact on the world.”

Twins Sydney and Hallie Pellerin (left to right) will walk the stage together on May 5 during the
FSU Panama City Spring Commencement. Both will receive their master’s degrees in Law Enforcement Intelligence.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., the sisters have lived all over the U.S. as their father’s career kept them on the move. They chose Panama City for their university experience because of the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) program.

“I grew up loving CSI—the psychological aspects of it—connecting the dots and catching the bad guys,” Hallie said. “I grew up watching crime shows, and I found out about the CSI program here at FSU PC. My professors really cared about all of their students and pushed them to succeed in the areas they were most passionate about.”

Sydney echoed Hallie in expressing her interest in the analytical and investigative aspects of law enforcement intelligence. She added that her experiences as an undergraduate, including an internship with the 14th Judicial Circuit Court, helped her develop skills she will need to shine in her chosen field.

“One of the things that really drew me in was the sense of community here,” Sydney said. “I truly can see how devoted and dedicated the faculty and staff are here. They are committed to seeing that every student pursues their individual successes. I just love this school with my entire heart. I felt welcomed at FSU PC.”

Hallie was drawn to the waterfront campus and the prospect of enjoying beach days on the Gulf of Mexico. But she added that the smaller class sizes and individualized attention of professors sealed the deal. The smaller campus “allowed us to have closer ties to our professors, more personal relationships with them and with other students,” she said.

Professors have substantial professional experience in the field and can provide the perspective of that experience to their students, Hallie added: “I found that allows us to understand how to apply the skills learned in the program to the real world.”


Sydney was born with cerebral palsy, a motor disability caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects one’s ability to control their muscles. In her case, difficulty during the twins’ premature birth deprived part of Sydney’s brain of oxygen. She uses a set of crutches to help her walk, and she acknowledged that one of the obstacles she had to overcome was external.

Hallie Pellerin, left, straightens her twin sister Syndey Pellerin’s tassel during a graduation video
shoot at FSU Panama City in April.

“One of the biggest challenges was navigating such a unique environment with a physical disability,” Sydney said. “But I am so thankful to have these educational opportunities through FSU PC, because they have stayed committed to creating equal opportunities for each and every student. It means a lot that they cared as much about my success and my future as other students.”

Hallie reckoned her biggest challenge has been internal—overcoming her own fears and self-constructed obstacles to higher learning.

“I didn’t feel like I could even do what I’m doing now. In part because, when I was growing up, I always thought it was going to be a very tough four years for me, and a tough life afterward,” Hallie said. “You have all these expectations from high school about what professors were going to expect, how you should act, what you should do and maybe feeling like you’re not as far ahead in life. But at FSU PC, they make you feel valued for where you’re at, and then they provide you with the skills and tools to get to where you need to be while valuing the learning process for yourself.”

Though they will walk the stage during Spring Commencement on May 5, the twins will complete their program and receive their degrees in August. (View the Spring Commencement ceremony live on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCbXqDnfth0)

“We grew up together, attended the same schools, but this is kind of the first time we’ve been able to pursue a similar path,” said Sydney, who is considering a law degree or becoming an intelligence analyst for a law enforcement agency. “It has been a really fun experience. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”

For Hallie, studying alongside her sister “has been absolutely wonderful. She’s my best friend and my partner. We love to spend time together, and our interests obviously mirror one another. We wanted to add value to the world as well, and we felt like pursuing a degree in LEI would help us to tap into what we love and help others.”

Both twins expressed they would walk the stage at commencement on behalf of their family as well as the unknown persons in the future that they hope to help—“to serve and save,” as Hallie put it—when they enter the professional environment.
Learn more about FSU Panama City’s programs:
•    Crime Scene Investigation: https://pc.fsu.edu/csi
•    Law Enforcement Intelligence: https://pc.fsu.edu/lei
•    Law Enforcement Operations: https://pc.fsu.edu/leo