Meet Dr. Cynthia Abbott ’87

Hometown: Somerset, Ky.
Double major at Wesleyan in biology and art
Master’s degree in medical illustration, Medical College of Georgia
Medical school: University of Louisville School of Medicine
Internship in pediatrics: Kosair Children’s Hospital, Louisville, Ky.
Dermatology residency: Ohio State University
Dr. Abbott is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. She is board certified with the American Board of Dermatology.

Her parents are Benjamin H. ’59 and Linda Huffaker Abbott ’59.

She is married to Marty Thomasson, and they have four children.

Dr._AbbottWhat are special memories of your Wesleyan years?

“I never thought about attending anywhere but Wesleyan, as so many in my family had attended here. It was the right decision for me. I loved the small school experience and particularly remember a number of professors who were very supportive.

As an art major, I needed a figure drawing class to get into a graduate program in medical illustration. The art professors arranged for nude models from the community to fulfill this requirement. We met in the basement of Kendall Hall, and we covered the windows!

I also remember leaving campus at 7 a.m. for pond water sampling for an ecology class. The professor was driving, and he parked in front of the dorm and laid on the horn until we all came out. Students were yelling out the windows. They did not understand the excitement and value of pond water sampling early in the morning. Memories!”

You mentioned the support of your professors. Tell us about them.

“Professor Don Davenport, Dr. David Oetinger and Dr. W. L. Magnuson were awesome and so supportive. They were interested in me and very encouraging. Dr. Bob Flachskam insisted that I take organic chemistry, and he was right, but I was concerned that it would pull down my GPA. I worked so hard in that class and got an A. Dr. Bob Darrell was great, too. I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to do, and he told me to do what I liked, to follow that path and I would end up where I should be. He was right. All of these professors had such an impact on my life. They cared about me; they invested their time in me.”

Why did you choose the field of medicine?

“I studied art and science at the Medical College of Georgia. My second year there, I felt alone with my drawing board and was not happy. So I applied to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. I am a very visual person. Dermatology was my last rotation, and it combines the visual and art. I love what I do; I love the variety of patients of all ages.”

What is your greatest accomplishment?

“I married my best friend, and we are still happily married. We have a happy family life with our children. That is everything to me.”

What books have changed your outlook on the world?

“A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Les Miserables (in French) by Victor Hugo, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.”

What are other interests/priorities in your life?

“I am involved with the International Leprosy Society, and as a Rotary member, I am trying to organize a grant to address leprosy, which is 100 percent treatable if it is discovered early. I was the ship doctor with Youth with a Mission in Papua New Guinea two years ago. I saw leprosy and drug-resistant tuberculosis. My son also volunteered, and my husband developed a medical records app for patients there.”

Why do you give to Wesleyan?

“Wesleyan gave me something I could not have found anywhere else. I was educated in such a caring environment, and my professors jumped through so many hoops for me. I think they got to know me better than I knew myself at that age. I want others to experience what I did.”