Julie Van Berkel | Alumni | University of Guelph

Julie Van Berkel

Julie Van Berkel

Julie Van Berkel

Program:Bachelor of Arts Degree
Major:Developmental Studies

My name is Julie Van Berkel. I am a mature student who came to University of Guelph in 2016, after graduating from a Culinary Management Program with 5 years of career experience.

My decision to return to school is based upon two charitable trips to India where I developed a deep desire to do more humanitarian work.

In the fall of 2013, I spent 3 months in Rishikesh, India to volunteer for an NGO supported institution called Mother Miracle School. The school provides education to underprivileged students and supports a youth training course as well as a Women’s Empowerment Centre.

I returned to Mother Miracle School in 2016. The school had added a bakery to their Women’s Empowerment Centre and I was invited back to help establish a baking program.

In a bid to further empower women in the region, I developed a program on the basics of baking and started a breakfast initiative for the 250 students and staff at the school. We also began selling our baked goods at local businesses, the proceeds of which created a sustainable income for the program.

After a powerful experience in India, I entered the University of Guelph Developmental Studies with a focus on gender issues and food security. I have continued my volunteer efforts and am the Guelph Chair of Universities Fighting World Hunger where we focus on food security and hunger education.

In the summer of 2018, I volunteered in Tanzania at an NGO organization called Iringa Partners. Under the supervision of Dr. Steffi Hamann, I completed an advanced study course in conjunction with an independent research course. My work in Tanzania was centered around teaching a gender empowerment course to high school girls. I also examined the impact of volunteer organizations on education as well as the efficiencies and/or deficiencies of women’s empowerment programs.

The University of Guelph continues to inspire me. I believe in evidence-based research and plan to pursue graduate studies at Guelph to build a humanitarian career with a strong foundation in theory and research.

I am also inspired by the Angel Gabriel Foundation behind the Summerlee Humanitarian Scholarship. I am funding my own education and the Scholarship allowed me to forgo paid work during my summer break such that I could deepen my learning while helping a worthy cause.

Because of donor generosity, I can continue my path uninterrupted and in so doing, I plan to always conduct myself in a manner that reflects the insight and kindness of your contributions. Thank you.


Have you updated your contact information?

We'll keep you in the know about alumni news, events, and new benefits!



Alumni Affairs and Development builds lifelong relationships with alumni, parents, staff, faculty and friends of the University of Guelph. We raise funds to support the University and advance its mission to improve life.

Charitable Registration Number:
10816 1829 RR 0001


Event Galleries on Flickr