The global superstar calls on everyone to help one person in her inspiring speech at the prestigious Ivy League university
There doesn’t seem to be much that Rihanna can’t do. The Barbadian singer-songwriter, dancer, fashion designer, model, actress, general all-round influencer and philanthropist can now add ‘Humanitarian Of The Year’ to her resumé.
At the university’s awards ceremony, Robyn Rihanna Fenty was honoured for her contributions. The singer begins her speech with, “So I made it to Harvard. Never thought I’d be able to say that in my life but it feels good.”
She then goes on to say, “As I stare out into this beautiful room, I see optimism, I see hope. I see the future. I know that each and every one of you has the opportunity to help someone else.”
Humbly noting that she never meant to have anything in return for her humanitarian efforts, the star explains, “People make it seem way too hard, man. You don’t have to be rich to be humanitarian. You don’t have to be rich to help somebody. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be college educated. I mean, I wish I was… but it starts with your neighbour.”
She ends her speech with a challenge for everyone: “Make a commitment to help one person, one organisation, one situation that touches your heart.”
And, of course, delivers some wise advice from her grandmother: “My grandmother always used to say, ‘If you got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.'”
Her philanthropy began in 2006, when she founded The Believe Foundation for terminally ill children by providing them with “critical, emotional, educational, financial and medical support”.
As the ambassador of UNICEF’s Tap Project, Rihanna has helped to bring clean water to children.
In honour of her grandparents, Clara (Dolly) and Lionel Braithwaite, she founded the non-profit Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012. The organisation aims to fight against injustices by improving the lives of young people in impoverished communities everywhere. The charity donates millions to help fund scholarships, health and emergency response programs. Recently – as of 28 February – the foundation has partnered with Dior. The French fashion house will be donating a percentage of proceeds from their ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt sales to the foundation.
In addition to being honoured for her philanthropy, Rihanna’s championing of women’s issues, black issues and highlighting intersectionality was noted in speeches.
You can watch the ceremony below.