By Robyn Collins
Now, Rihanna can tell everyone she attended Harvard. The pop icon was given a Humanitarian Award at the University yesterday and delivered an inspiring acceptance speech.
Past recipients of the prestigious award include Pakistani female activist Malala Yousafzai, former UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Lionel Richie.
Taking to the podium after being presented the award by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, Rihanna opened by joking, “So, I made it to Harvard. Never thought I’d be able to say that in my life, but it feels good.”
The pop singer, who started work with her first foundation at the age of 18, talked about when her she first started thinking about helping others. She also discussed her views on being a humanitarian, quoting her grandmother who said, “If you’ve got a dollar, you’ve got a lot to share.”
“I would think to myself, ‘I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all the kids in Africa?’” she recalled. “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.”
“All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return,” she continued. “To me, that is a humanitarian. 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 her acceptance speech below, which begins at 1:14:00.