Career Stories

Inaugural SlimmDuck Scholarship Recipient One Step Closer to Her Dream Job

Helen Harry, inaugural recipient of the SlimmDuck Scholarship From left: Mohamed Lachemi, President of Toronto Metropolitan University, Helen Harry, the inaugural recipient of the SlimmDuck Scholarship at TMU, Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors, and Gary Hepburn, Dean of The Chang School
November 1, 2023


Helen Harry had always dreamed of becoming a midwife – especially after giving birth to her daughter. But finances were a challenge for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines native.

After becoming the inaugural recipient of the SlimmDuck Scholarship recently, Helen is one step closer to her dream. NBA basketball player Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors established the scholarship to help students of Caribbean descent like Helen realize their academic aspirations. The award was presented to her at a Spanning the Gaps event at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). Helen’s first reaction to winning the award was disbelief.

“I had volunteered for something at The Chang School and couldn’t understand why I was getting all these calls, especially on Thanksgiving weekend,” says Helen, recalling when she found out. “I had totally forgotten I applied for the scholarship.”

When she turned up for the event at Heaslip House, Helen thought maybe she was a runner-up for the award but when it became apparent that she was the only student there, it finally sunk in.

“I was really happy and was at a loss for words,” she says, describing the feeling at the moment.

A gift from Boucher’s SlimmDuck Foundation, the scholarship was set up to open the door to university education for students of Caribbean descent. It provides financial assistance to learners through the Spanning the Gaps bridging program, which offers a pathway to university for learners who intend to pursue an undergraduate degree but have gaps resulting in incomplete admission requirements for a traditional pathway into post-secondary education.

“Congratulations to Helen Harry for receiving the inaugural SlimmDuck Foundation Scholarship at Toronto Metropolitan University,” said Chris Boucher. “We are proud to provide equal access to higher education for students of Caribbean descent, a mission directly aligned with the goals of my Foundation.”

The SlimmDuck scholarship includes the full suite of Spanning the Gaps programming offered through The Chang School, and $5,000 towards the cost of first-year undergraduate tuition at TMU.

Not only will winning the award help Helen with the financial costs of post-secondary education, but TMU is also her first choice of institutions to study midwifery. While one of the reasons is because of TMU’s location in Toronto, which she now calls home, Helen also learned about the university’s Midwifery Education Program through her midwife when she was pregnant with her daughter.

“Almost everybody that’s a midwife went to TMU so I knew it had a good reputation,” says Helen.

Her journey towards becoming a midwife started with the Spanning the Gaps Transition Foundation Program, which she found out about from a friend.

“I talked to [Spanning the Gaps] about wanting to pursue a career in midwifery. After having my daughter and working random jobs here and there, I told myself that I really needed to get the ball rolling on my dream career. I just wanted to start working towards my career and in order to do that I needed to do some academic upgrading, which Spanning the Gaps allowed me to do.”

The SlimmDuck Scholarship represents a commitment to creating equity in access to higher education and aligns with the goals of The Chang School to support increased student representation in post-secondary studies. The gift will empower students of Caribbean descent to prove, just as Boucher did, that it’s never too late to dominate.

“At The Chang School, we are deeply committed to removing barriers to education for mature, equity-deserving, and non-traditional learners. Spanning the Gaps would not exist without the generosity of donors like Chris Boucher and The SlimmDuck Foundation,” said Gary Hepburn, Dean of The Chang School at TMU. “Financial support from the SlimmDuck Scholarship will help recipients build a solid foundation to reach their educational goals.”

Not only did meeting Boucher to receive the award take Helen one step closer to her goal, she also realized that the NBA star is a neighbour of hers.

“He’s from St. Lucia originally so we’re 45 minutes away by plane [from St. Vincent and the Grenadines],” she says, laughing.

While pursuing a degree in midwife education will help Helen with her dream job, she also plans on drawing on her experience of pregnancy and giving birth when consulting with her clients in the future.

"I feel able to relate to my clients in terms of helping them come up with an ideal birth plan that best suits them as I've gone through it myself," says Helen.

The Spanning the Gaps program is currently accepting applications for the Winter 2024 semester.