Alumna Marion Bloemendal volunteers at the International Wageningen Alumni Chapter Belgium

Ir Marion Bloemendal has been a driving force within the Wageningen Alumni Chapter Belgium for many years. Through the company visits organised by this inspiring and lively network, contacts are stimulated not only with companies but also among alumni.

How it all started

"When I moved to Belgium in 2015, it turned out there was no Belgian Chapter. I had positive experiences with meetings for WUR alumni in the South Holland region and also because I had an active student life, it seemed like a good idea to set up a network in Belgium as well. The aim of this initiative was to promote networking between Wageningers in Belgium and also to encourage involvement with WUR. Someone else had the same idea: Dr Iris Vendel, and we got in touch through the Alumni Office. In 2016, we then started working together with Denise Spiekerman who works for the Alumni Office.

I remember the first meeting took place in a beer pub next to Brussels Central Station. The meeting became an instant success. Two years later at a posh alumni meeting on 24 January 2018 at the Dutch Embassy in Brussels, the official launch of the Chapter took place. In the presence of the 50 participants, the then Ambassador, Ms Maryem van den Heuvel and WUR Chairman of the Board Prof Louise O. Fresco signed the Letter of Intent to further establish the Wageningen Alumni Chapter Belgium. In that year, WUR also celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Organising a Chapter meeting

The intention was to organise meetings 2-3 times a year. The average number of participants during a company visit was around 15. During the corona period, the meetings were at a standstill. Everyone was more or less surviving during that period, and getting together was not a priority. This year, we picked up the gauntlet again with a number of enthusiasts.

In itself, organising an event is not that much work. You need a speaker, venue, date and a nice restaurant for to end the meeting at with a drink and a dinner. If you can divide all that among a few people, the workload is not so high. The biggest challenge is choosing the right time and finding a good venue for a company visit. Finding speakers is not really a problem, most alumni can tell a passionate story about their work.

So my tip for alumni who also enjoy organising a company visit is to share their own passion. The events that we have organised so far have shown that connection with participants then arises naturally because of shared interests. This leads to exciting and lively discussions every meeting.

What did volunteering bring Marion

Over the years, my network has expanded considerably and I have met many people in the region. Through the Chapter meetings, I have visited many interesting companies and met speakers who each conveyed their own expertise and passion. For me personally, the contact with the organising group we have now is very nice. My AID baby is one of them!


I have been working in various positions within Danone's Milk Team in Rotselaar since 2016. My education helped bring me to where I am today and thus contributed significantly to my current position. In Wageningen, I learned things like interdisciplinary thinking, agro-chain-wide views, critical attitude, international experience, realising project work, cooperation and self-reflection. I still apply these competences daily in my work.
My study MME (Management, Economics and Consumer Studies) has led to a good job match for me every time so far. It is useful to be able to empathise and have knowledge of all links and partners in the agricultural chain. In addition, having a STEM-oriented business education makes your daily life easier.

Proud of my WUR-DNA

I experienced my study time at WUR as a very valuable and fun time. As a higher professional education student, I only did my Masters at Wageningen and even though the first semester did not go very smoothly, I became active quite quickly. For instance, I did a board year at Integrand and served on various committees at Mercury. In 2008, I graduated in Chile (as the first student to collaborate with Universidad de Chile in Santiago).

I did not realise the huge impact studying at WUR had on me until my graduation thesis period in Chile and afterwards in working life. I am proud to have studied at one of the top agricultural universities in the world.

I feel like a true Wageninger and still experience a warm bond with my former university. You are given a kind of specific WUR-DNA. When you meet other WUR alumni, you recognise that and soon after there is a certain feeling of recognition and connection. We read and write together, so to speak.
No matter where you are in the world, within your profession everyone knows WUR and great memories and anecdotes are soon brought up."