Rihanna is Harvard's humanitarian of the year, but she never went to college

AFP

Mar,02 2017 10:26 44 IST

Rihanna never went to college but the R&B superstar voiced delight as she was presented an award by Harvard University for her humanitarian work.

"So I made it to Harvard! Never thought I would be able to say that in my life, but it feels good," a beaming Rihanna said to students' cheers at the prestigious US university Tuesday evening.

Rihanna.

Rihanna.

Rihanna said she had set up her first charity at age 18 and remarked: "People make it seem way too hard, man.You don't need to be rich to help someone, you don't need to be famous, you don't even need to be college-educated," she said, while joking that she wished she were.

"I want to challenge each of you to make a commitment to help one person, one organization, one situation that touches your heart," she said. "My grandmother always used to say, 'If you got a dollar, there's plenty to share.'"

"Rihanna has charitably built a state-of-the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados," Harvard Foundation director S. Allen Counter said.

She has also set up a scholarship program, named after her grandparents, for Caribbean students studying in the United States, and supports efforts to give girls better access to education in the developing world.

"It is for these philanthropic initiatives and other acts of compassionate sharing that the students and faculty of the Harvard Foundation chose to honor Rihanna with the 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award," Counter said.

The singer joins an illustrious roster of past recipients that includes former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, and singer Lionel Richie.

Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, has sold more than 200 million records, won eight Grammy Awards and scored 14 number-one hits. She is also celebrated for her style and collaborates with Puma on a clothing line.