As one of the world’s most famous female singers of today, Rihanna‘s contribution to the world has been plenty impactful in itself. But something fans may forget is how philanthropic the “Love on the Brain” singer is as well.
Because of Rihanna’s work in her native island of Barbados and the charities she has founded over the years, the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations honored her with the 2017 Harvard Humanitarian of the Year award. In a ceremony held Tuesday (Feb. 28), Rihanna thanked the university for the honor and delivered an inspiring speech — but, of course, had to start off with a little pat on the back for her achievement.
“So I made it to Harvard,” Rihanna began as she jokingly flipped her hair. “Never thought I’d be able to say that in my life, but it feels good.”
As she continued, Rihanna explained that she has had a passion for helping people since she was a young girl watching commercials about how a quarter could help save a child’s life. “I would think to myself, ‘I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all the kids in Africa.’ And I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up and I get rich, I’m gonna save kids all over the world.’ I just didn’t know I would be in a position to do that by the time I was a teenager,” she laughed.
After touching on all of the organizations she has since started and helped with, Rihanna encouraged the students at the ceremony and everyone listening to join her in her selfless contributions.
“All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.” She added, “What that little girl watching those commercials didn’t know is that you don’t have to be rich to be a humanitarian, 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. But it starts with your neighbor… you just do whatever you can to help in any way that you can.”
Watch Rihanna receive her humanitarian award and see her full speech below: