Rihanna Robyn Fenty, the Grammy-winning singer accepted Harvard’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award on Tuesday, and shared her desire to get a college degree.
The 29-year-old Barbadian beauty received the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award during a ceremony on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus on Tuesday.
“You don’t have to be rich to be a humanitarian. You don’t have to be rich to help somebody,” she said during a speech at the university. “You don’t gotta be famous. You don’t even have to be college-educated. I mean, I wish I was … especially today.”
As the crowd laughed, the 29-year-old declared, “It’s true, I might come back.”
Rihanna’s Humanitarian of the Year Award is based on of her involvement with a number of charitable causes.
The 29-year-old singer built a state-of-the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados.
In May last year, she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation’s Global Scholarship Program – named after her grandmother who died from cancer — dedicated to giving people in nations such as Cuba, Haiti and her home country, Barbados, the chance to study at universities in the United States.
‘Giving back is important to me and it should be important to everyone,’ the multi-talented star said at her annual Diamond Ball Gala benefit in 2015.
‘If you have the ability to help and lend a hand, no matter how big or small, you should definitely make that your responsibility.’
“When I was 5 or 6 years old, I remember watching TV and I would see these commercials and I was watching other children suffer in other parts of the world,” she said on Tuesday. “You know? The commercials where you could give 25 cents and save a child’s life. I would think to myself … I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all of the kids in Africa and I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up and get rich, I’m going to save kids all over the world.’ I just didn’t know I’d be in the position to do that when I was a teenager.”
Rihanna traveled to Africa on behalf of her Clara Lionel Foundation, and is working as the ambassador for charities Global Citizen and the Global Partnership for Education which provides children with access to education in more than 60 developing countries.
Last month Rihanna shed her usual pop star privileges as she dressed down to visit a Malawi school.
Make-up free and wearing a practical outfit of shirt and trousers, the Work singer looked ready to muck in as she visited the school in Lilongwe.
She toured the classrooms and met with the students during her charity trip.
‘Met the bravest, most humble kids and young women this week! I can’t wait to share more! #CLF #GC #GPE,’ she wrote alongside an Instagram snapshot with a group of children from her trip.