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Planned Giving Creates Legacy For Next Generation

Ryerson Fashion grad Helen Hutko, in an undated photo

Helen Hutko

In the Ryerson Archives is a signature blueand-white gingham smock that students in Ryerson’s School of Fashion used to wear in class. It belonged to Helen Hutko (Fashion ’50), one of Ryerson’s very first graduates. After a few years in the industry, Helen returned to the School of Fashion as an instructor, teaching during the 1950s and 1960s. As an alumna and as an instructor, she helped nurture the careers of many of her students as they made their way in the profession.

Having watched the School of Fashion grow into an international leader, Helen, with her husband Sulo, were eager to extend her legacy with Ryerson and its students. Helen made a bequest in her will that – when she passed away in 2010 at 89-years old – established six annual scholarships for fashion students to be offered in perpetuity.

Helen and Sulo likely had in mind students just like Ekaterina Kuzheleva and Alexa Jovanovic when they planned their gift.

Ekaterina is pursuing this degree “because it is my passion – despite it being a difficult field in Canada.” And Alexa, a recent graduate, is developing innovative fashion products and working on a master’s degree. Both students received the Helen and Sulo Hutko Award during their time at Ryerson.

“It is encouraging to be rewarded for hard work and persistence,” says Ekaterina. “The award allows me to focus more on school, and frees me to work on other projects that, while not directly part of my coursework, help me develop as a professional.”

Ryerson Fashion students Alexa and Ekaterina in classroom

Alexa Jovanovic and Ekaterina Kuzheleva


Ekaterina says she knows a lot of students who have to work two jobs. “But when you need to use your free time this way,” she notes, “you can’t take advantage of some of the opportunities that can really make a difference to your developing career. Awards open up different possibilities. It’s a chain reaction – they help you do more; and when you do more, you receive more in turn.”

The award meant Ekaterina could make the most of exceptional opportunities to develop her portfolio. She won first place in the annual Danier Design Challenge, and was selected from hundreds of applicants from institutions in 29 countries to be part of the Arts of Foundation 2016 competition in San Francisco. Her designs were also among the finalists in the Telio and North American Fur Auction (NAFA) student design competitions, and won the Lindt Excellence Award for evening wear.

For Alexa, “the award was very timely in that it helped finance the continuation of my Braille In Fashion research study and secure my patent. Due to this award, I am now able to further explore the integration of Braille in fashion to create products targeted to both blind and sighted individuals, and help promote equality, independence and accessibility.”

“It is an honour to be a recipient of the Helen and Sulo Hutko Award,” says Alexa. “The acknowledgment for my work has encouraged me to continue to contribute to the community both academically and commercially through fashion product development and disability research.”

Thanks to Helen’s planned gift, her connection to Ryerson and her legacy here will live on through generations of talented students like Ekaterina and Alexa.

As with all those who generously make planned gifts to the university, Helen and Sulo Hutko are recognized and remembered as members of the Ryerson Society in perpetuity.