In the Spotlight: Farewell Esther van der Linden
One of the success stories of COAST have been our talent programmes, of which the Analytical Science Talent Programme (ASTP) is the largest. ASTP focusses on vocational BSc (Dutch: HLO) students in years 2, 3 and 4 of their curricula at one of many Dutch Universities of Applied Science. ASTP is already in its 11th year and it has seen quite a few changes. For many years it was organized jointly by COAST and the Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen (HAN); since 2020 ASTP is organized by COAST, with great support from the HAN, the Hogeschool Utrecht and InHolland Hogeschool. For students conditions have changed (no more grants, unfortunately) and for COAST participants the thresholds for bringing in ASTP students have been drastically lowered.
However, through all these changes one treasured asset of the programme, Esther van der Linden, remained. For all of the more than 250 students that have so far enrolled in our programme, she was the personification of ASTP. For students and COAST participants alike, there is really no better word than personification. Esther managed to make the programme personal, starting from her ability to know the names, faces and special characteristics of each student from their first day in the programme, to her countless interactions with teachers, internship providers, and everyone else needed to make a complex programme run smoothly.
The Analytical community in The Netherlands has been infested with a great number of very special ASTP graduates. Many of them studied (or are studying) a while longer after their BSc degree. Many have already obtained MSc degrees and some have even started or obtained their PhD. The vast majority of the 130-or-so ASTP graduates now work as analytical scientists somewhere in our community. They can be found everywhere. In large companies, SMEs and research institutions, in schools and academic organizations, government agencies, etc. Our analytical community is stronger thanks to the extra knowledge and skills instilled in ASTP students and thanks to the numerous strong network links that have been built between them mutually and with all COAST participants.
At the centre of this invaluable network was Esther van der Linden. It was her very nature to develop and cherish strong connections with everyone she encountered in her work. Esther has decided to retire as of January 1st, 2022, at a ridiculously young age. She leaves the analytical field much stronger than it was. Thanks in no small part to Esther, COAST has progressed from an organization to a community and the network of ASTP students, alumni, teachers and supervisors stretches far beyond.
We wish Esther all the best for a long and healthy future and we hope to keep her in our network and community as a source of inspiration and as a friend.