Dr. Laurie Cestnick

Dr. Laurie Cestnick, Ph.D. , is a Harvard University research scientist and Harvard Fellowship Nominee. She is a leading expert in the field of neuropsychology and learning disorders, dyslexia in particular. Laurie holds international experience and education, has produced scientific publications, and has received many awards for her incredible work.

During high school, Laurie had a passion for drama, and actually won the drama award. She had various positions on the student council, and was very dedicated to contributing to student life at Blakelock. Like most high school students, Laurie did not know what she wanted to be, other than the fact that she was very intersted in giving back to her community. Once in university, she began to study neuroscience and found that she was not good at it. After putting in hard work and pushing herself, she began to find that she was able to excel and this became her passion.

Laurie went on to complete her Masters and eventually her PhD in Psychology in Australia. Laurie won a full scholarship for her PhD studies. Since then, she has been offered Post Doc awards - funding for 4 years at Harvard Medical School and MIT, as well as one to Standford before her PhD was even done! Laurie has worked at McLean Hospital, a teaching facility of Harvard Medical School, where she has been described to have a remarkable work ethic and an innate sense of curiosity and knowledge about the mind and brain, which has made her an excellent scientist and doctor.

Dr. Cestnick’s job entails evaluating patients with learning disabilities and brain disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism, as well as providing counselling to her patients. Children fall in love with Laurie’s bubbly personality; she can take a screaming child and instantly make them happy. Not only is Laurie exceptionally brilliant in her field, but her ability to connect with her patients and provide on-going support and care is what makes Laurie so incredible.

Although Laurie has encountered great success, some of her most memorable moments have also been losses. After being a finalist for the Harvard Junior Fellowship, Laurie got cut due to her strong beliefs against animal testing. The fellowship would have completely changed Laurie’s life and career, but her moral convictions remained more important, although costing her an incredible opportunity.

In the future, Laurie plans to write a book for non-scientists so that we can learn more about dyslexia and how to treat it.

Laurie’s advice to students is that you can do anything, and you can do it now. Think outside the box, and make things happen now. Her friend Shiva invented email at the age of 14, and has his patents on display in the Smithsonian. Einstein did his best work at 16. She says, “Start now, always be curious, and always seek your own answers”.

2015 Hall of Fame Inductee