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A Journey of a Lifetime

10 August, 2022
Sarah and TCC staff share some memories from the College’s 2000 Yearbook. L-R: Sr Margaret Dixon RSM, Mrs Sue Misselbrook, Sarah Wittig, Mrs Brenda Mallory and Mrs Claire Larsen.

A journey of 16 thousand kilometres over the past 22 years has landed past student and 2000 College Dux of The Cathedral College (TCC), Sarah Wittig (nee Beavan) at the centre of space research and technology in the northern hemisphere. Sarah is a Photonics Components Engineer with the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk, Netherlands and plays a role in checking lasers and photon instrumentation suitable for space missions. ESA has sites in several European countries but the specific part of the Agency where Sarah works is the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) located in Noordwijk.

Earlier this week Sarah visited her alma mater, TCC to speak with students of the College and to catch up with some of the staff who she knew from her days as a student at TCC. Sarah shared with the students the journey she had travelled from leaving TCC to now living and working for the ESA in Noordwijk. The love of Physics that was nurtured at TCC saw Sarah firstly undertake Science studies at the CQU and then at QUT followed by obtaining a PHD at ANU.

Sarah’s distinguished academic career did not stop there with further study at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) which is one of Europe’s leading research institutions and spent a summer internship at CERN, the particle accelerator in Switzerland.  ESA sponsored Research Fellowships followed until Sarah obtained a permanent role with the Space Agency in 2018 as a Photonic Component Engineer – a role she still holds today.

Married with two children, Sarah loves her life in Noordwijk living only a short ten-minute bike ride from home to where she works at ESTEC and at this stage she sees herself continuing to work at the Agency for the foreseeable future.

Sarah said her time at TCC had stood her in good stead in her academic studies and in pursuing a professional career that had given her much personal happiness and satisfaction. “When I left TCC, I was not sure what path I wished to follow.  I would never have dreamt back then that I would be working in this exciting frontier of space, but my love of Physics very much influenced my tertiary studies and guided me in my decision making when career opportunities came my way” Sarah said.

“My advice to young people is to find what you love doing and follow that one step at a time for the journey of a life-time,” she said.