USA TODAY College – March 1, 2017
Rihanna doesn’t want to just tour the world, she wants to make it a better place — and it seems the singer, songwriter and actress is doing a bang-up job.
Harvard University awarded Robin “Rihanna” Fenty its Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award on Tuesday in recognition of a center for oncology and nuclear medicine built by the 29-year-old entertainer at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in her home country of Barbados, among other projects.
“We all just want a chance,” she said as she accepted the annual award. “A chance at life, a chance at an education, a chance at a future, really.”
A quick history of some of her other efforts:
- In 2006, when she was just 18 years old, Rihanna founded the BELIEVE Foundation to help critically ill children.
- She founded an international health and education advocacy organization called the Clara Lionel Foundation (named for her grandparents) six years later in 2012
- In 2013, Rihanna teamed up with UNICEF to launch a campaign to help children in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
- She serves as an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education and for Global Citizen.
- In 2016, Rihanna announced a global scholarship program through the Clara Lionel Foundation.
Rihanna said she was incredibly humbled to receive the award, which she accepted following a choral performance and prayer.
“You don’t have to be rich to help somebody,” Rihanna, whose career began at age 16, said. “You don’t gotta be famous. You don’t even have to be college educated.”
Prior recipients of Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year award from the pop culture world include actor James Earl Jones and tennis player Arthur Ashe, USA TODAY reports.