Grammy award-winning singer, Rihanna received Harvard University’s Humanitarian of the Year award and a standing ovation for her charity work including building a centre for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer in Barbados, where she is from.
In her acceptance speech on Tuesday she spoke about how her philanthropic attitude was fostered in childhood watching TV ads about people suffering around the world.
“And I would say to myself you know, ‘when I grow up, when I can get rich, I’mma save kids all over the world.’ I just didn’t know I would be in the position to do that by the time I was a teenager.”
“All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.
Rihanna received a standing ovation as she accepted the award. She joked about finally making it to Harvard and struck a pose as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Rihanna also supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, providing children with access to education in developing countries.
She also created the Clara Lionel Foundation scholarship program for students from the Caribbean who attend college in the US.
The Harvard Foundation awards the honour each year to a “prominent public-spirited leader”.
Past honourees include, among others, late physician-statistician Hans Rosling, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai.