Student Star: Chloe Wain

FSU Honors student prepares for future in legal public service as public defender

Name: Chloe Wain
Major: Political Science; Editing, Writing, & Media; Economics
Graduation: Spring 2024
Hometown: Davie, Fla.
Colleges: College of Social Sciences & Public Policy, College of Arts & Sciences

“My experience at Florida State University has exceeded my expectations by providing a foundation of knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence to be applied when engaging in public legal service opportunities.”

Fast Facts

  1. Family Matters: ~over 300 cousins of Cuban and Irish ancestry
  2. Most Appreciative of FSU for: The guidance, encouragement, support and experience that helped her decide to pursue a future public service legal career.
  3. Travel Itinerary: Loves going to museums. Visited more than 30 museums in Washington, D.C. when she interned at the public defender's office.
  4. On the Field: Played lacrosse competitively for more than eight years before attending FSU.
  5. Favorite Study Spot: Dodd Hall

A triple major in political science, English and economics, Chloe Wain chose to attend Florida State University for the variety of scholarship, leadership and service opportunities available to prepare her for a future in legal public service as a public defender. 

“Prior to attending Florida State University, I recognized the lack of adequate legal, economic, and emotional government support systems for low-income communities,” she said. “As a result, my priority became learning how to adequately represent indigent defendants by serving as a public defender. Through Florida State University’s resources, along with students and faculty, I have improved my understanding of how to advocate on behalf of others by protecting universal human rights.” 

FSU has many programs that provide opportunities and establish strong support systems. These include the Office of National Fellowships, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), the Honors Program and the Global Scholars Program. These programs surrounded Wain with faculty, staff and students, integrating her into a more rigorous education environment. 

“My experience at Florida State University has exceeded my expectations by providing a foundation of knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence to be applied when engaging in public legal service opportunities,” Wain said. “I aspire to have the mentorship, guidance and support of students, faculty and staff along with pursuing scholarship, leadership, and research to strengthen my interests and allow for the personal development necessary to excel in a career of legal public service and human rights advocacy.” 

Starting her freshman year at FSU, Wain served on the Appellate Committee of Florida State University’s Academic Honor Policy where she helped create a Canvas course to instruct students on how to avoid and deter integrity violations due to a lack of knowledge of specific provisions in Florida State University’s Academic Honor Policy. 

Wain has contributed to the communities of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Miami and the District of Columbia through a multitude of legal public service endeavors to protect the rights, liberties and freedoms of low-income constituents incarcerated and overlooked by the criminal justice system. 

“While acknowledging the gaps of knowledge in my previous education, Florida State University has provided the opportunities to analyze prominent legal injustices of low-income communities and develop potential public policy recommendations necessary to reform government support services,” Wain said. 

As a research assistant at the DeVoe L. Moore Center through UROP, Wain evaluated the use of eminent domain by the City of Tallahassee and Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency to construct Capital Cascades Trail, a local public infrastructure project. She analyzed compensation agreements provided to displaced tenants of a historically vulnerable, tight-knit Black neighborhood, Boynton-Still. 

She presented her research on local gentrification and displacement practices at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, the DeVoe L. Moore Center Fall and Spring Colloquium, the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference and will present at the Johns Hopkins Richard Macksey Humanities Symposium in March. Wain will expand on her UROP research to incorporate two more Tallahassee communities through her Honors in the Major thesis with the DeVoe L. Moore Center and the Department of Economics in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. 

This semester, Wain serves as a legal services intern at Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, where she works with Executive Director Terry Coonan and Assistant Director Vania Aguilar to provide pro-bono legal immigration services. 

After graduation, Wain plans to take a gap year serving as a criminal investigator before attending law school. With experience defending the most serious and complex crimes as a public defender, she hopes to assist victims of international human rights violations and provide immigration services. 

You served as a research assistant at the DeVoe L. Moore Center for your research project. What did you discover in your research, and what are the wider implications of your findings? 

A preliminary legal analysis revealed more local, state and federal government transparency, accountability and oversight is needed to execute measures and policies to protect persons displaced as a result of economic redevelopment projects. My research found the cyclical patterns of redevelopment have displaced heavily Black tenant populations through relocation into neighborhoods with fewer social and economic opportunities. Potential public policy recommendations include the development of a dispute-resolution program, Social Impact Assessments, addressing tangible and measurable community benefits and providing transparency of government procedures. Although local, state and federal compensation standards serve as protective measures against government eminent domain abuse, objective measures of fair market value, along with lack of additional relocation benefits, are not enough to meet community needs in a forced sale. 

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment at FSU?  

Serving as an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Leader has allowed for opportunities to provide academic and professional mentorship, guidance and support to undergraduate students throughout research assistantships by facilitating project selection, mentor-mentee relationships and preparing poster presentations at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Supplemented with instructing individualized lesson plans, I have become accustomed to informing students about campus resources available in responding to their academic and personal development, along with exploring potential future legal, political and government careers. Shaping the academic trajectory of dedicated students by demonstrating what Florida State University has to offer has been a rewarding experience! Encouraging students to engage in critical research involvement to implement potential public policy recommendations is what inspired my personal interest in pursuing further legal advocacy work to improve social, political and economic conditions.

In what ways have your internships helped you serve your community and further your studies at FSU? 

Although not a path chosen by many, I have dedicated a future career in legal public service to indigent defendants along with victims of international human rights violations through past internship experiences serving the communities of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Miami and the District of Columbia. Through investigative tasks, I have developed an understanding of how to adequately represent vulnerable families, children and indigent persons in custody accused of complex and serious crimes with a client-centered approach. In contextualizing accusations with inquiries about personal background and past experiences helps challenge preconceived notions and biased understandings of incarcerated persons. My work in legal advocacy has helped develop a legal platform to serve as the voice for those who are oppressed, silenced and dehumanized. In pursuing internships, I have built a mentorship support system at Florida State University for like-minded undergraduate students interested in legal public service endeavors.