Photo: Caption Rihanna addresses the audience after winning the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award (Steven Senne/AP)
Let’s give a round of applause for the badgalriri. Robyn Fenty, best known by her stage name Rihanna, has reached another pinnacle in her career. Known for smash hits such as Pon de Replay, We Found Love, Diamonds, Work (featuring Drake), and her recent Billboard hit Needed Me, Rihanna has taken the entertainment world by storm. The pop star can now add another accomplishment to her resume: She has been named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year by the Harvard Foundation.
In the past, the award has gone to people such as activist Malala Yousafzai (2013), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2014), and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi (2015). If one were to take a glimpse at her lyrics, I would not be surprised if they had second thoughts about the award. So what exactly did Rihanna do to receive this award? The work that she has been doing to earn this award has been a mission since her youth.
In addition to performing at numerous concerts to raise money for charities, it seems she has turned her ear to HIV/AIDS awareness. In 2008, the pop star designed clothes for H&M’s Fashion Against AIDS line. In 2014, she played a role in the MAC Viva Glam campaign which benefited people who were living with HIV/AIDS.
Rihanna has also established the Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents, which provides scholarships to college students in need. As if this were not enough, in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeastern part of the United States, Rihanna donated $100,000 to food banks to aid in relief. It is clear that Rihanna has done her fair share in giving back to the community through her efforts, so there is no question as to why she was chosen by the Harvard Foundation as this year’s recipient.
When the star accepted her award on February 28, she started off her inspiring speech by saying, “So I made it to Harvard.” Rihanna then went on to say, “You don’t have to be rich to help somebody. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t even have to be college educated.” The singer also told the audience that when she was a child, she wondered how many quarters she would need to save up in order to help children in Africa. “All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return.”