Class of 2019
“I have made friendships with students and faculty members that will last a lifetime.”
Cazenovia College helped Abigail Thurston grow into the person she always wanted to be.

During her senior year in high school, Abigail Thurston `19 worked closely with her guidance counselor in order to find colleges that could offer her an education in fashion. There was one caveat to Thurston’s search which was made by her parents—she would have to hold off on the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City until her junior year. Thurston shares, “Originally, I looked into FIT, but I graduated high school at only 17, so my parents were a little hesitant to let me move to New York. We agreed that after two years at Cazenovia, I could transfer to FIT if that was what I still wanted, but I fell in love with Caz and even the Big Apple couldn’t get me to leave it just yet.”

Thurston refers to the magic she experienced walking on to the campus for the first time. The small-town feel, the beautiful scenery (especially in the fall), and the people who became like family to her. She says, “Everyone at Cazenovia made me feel welcome including the staff, faculty and administration, but mostly the students. I never imagined becoming so close to so many people in my entire life, and I know I have made friendships with students and faculty members that will last a lifetime.”

Initial memories include people sitting on picnic tables on the Quad, and others walking out of the library after clearly being there for way too long. Thurston also remembers boys at the lake kicking around a soccer ball and the girls who were laying out desperately trying to get some sun. She loved going to the gym with her roommates and taking scenic runs around the town. Thurston also loved going for ice cream at Carter’s or just sitting at the Pewter Spoon and having a cup of coffee. Above all Thurston recalls, “My fondest memory of my first day at Caz was when an upperclassman, Charlie Crouse ʼ17, saw me walk into the dining hall and immediately decided we were going to be best friends. And we still are four years later.”

Cazenovia met many of Thurston’s expectations for college life including financial aid. While in high school Thurston strived for high grades while taking many AP and college courses. Her hard work paid off when she received the Dean’s Leadership Award scholarship. Thurston says, “The scholarship was the deciding factor for me to come to Caz, because it allowed my family to feel comfortable sending me to a prestigious private college while paying close to SUNY school tuition.”

Her experience with a demanding academic course load in high school prepared Thurston well for college-level work at Caz where she majored in fashion design. “Fashion has always been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do since I started sewing at 7 years old, and after graduating with my degree it is still my biggest passion,” shares Thurston.  Her minors fell into place and include fashion merchandising, marketing, and international studies. Thurston chose fashion merchandising because she believes it is important to know both sides of the industry, i.e., the creative and the business. A marketing minor followed because she was fascinated with the discipline after just one class. Thurston picked up an international studies minor after studying abroad her junior year due to an interest in the global affairs and market.

Thurston’s wide range of academic interests is in part due to the professors at Cazenovia College. She gives credit to every professor from whom she took a class for offering such compelling subject matter. Upon some reflection, Thurston relates, “I cannot imagine getting through college without Karen Steen, Megan Lawson-Clark, Elise Thayer, Lee Beals, and Dr. Christine Geyer. Each one of these professors had a significant impact on me as a person and helped me grow in ways I can never thank them for enough.”

During her time at Caz, Thurston also worked hard outside the classroom. She completed three internships including a merchandising internship at Imagine in Skaneateles, after which Thurston was hired as a sales associate and worked there throughout college. Her second internship was at Dreissig Apparel in Syracuse, where she was a digital marketing intern. Thurston shares, “The connections I made at Dreissig have helped me in developing my own company and brand, and I will always cherish my time with the Dreissig family.” Her final internship was with M&S Schmalberg in New York City the summer before her senior year. Thurston recalls, “I was an outreach, product development, marketing, and customer service intern, and I wore many hats while working for the incredible fabric flower company in the heart of the garment district.”

Thurston kept an exceptionally busy calendar. Her activities outside the classroom included involvement with Kappi Pi, Sigma Alpha Pi: National Society of Leadership and Success, and Alpha Lambda Delta. She was also a member of the business club, a sewing tutor, and a student member of the National Retail Federation. Thurston also attended Cazenovia open houses and admissions events as the fashion department representative from 2015-2019.

Creating a business start-up while at Caz is the accomplishment of which Thurston is most proud. Her senior CAD class received a lot of attention, and from that project she has been able to start a line of apparel and accessories. She created a logo which is now embroidered on accessories and soon will be printed on apparel. As of June 2019, Thurston’s merchandise is seen on over 100 customers in ten of the 50 states.
In the long term, Thurston plans to move to New York City for her career in fashion; however, in the short term she has been pursuing employment opportunities close to home that will help her gain industry experience before making such a big move. Says Thurston, “I hope to explore these local opportunities, and then move to my favorite place, New York City.” Reflecting further, she adds, “Receiving this scholarship and coming to Cazenovia College opened several doors for me, and I am very excited to see what my future in the industry holds.”