As we learned last week, Rihanna is Harvard University’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year, an honor recognizing charitable efforts including college scholarships through her Clara Lionel Foundation and a breast cancer treatment center in her hometown of Bridgetown, Barbados. Today, Rihanna formally accepted her award in a ceremony at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre.
After a choral performance and several introductions, Rihanna gave a brief speech. “When I was 5 or 6 years old, I remember watching TV and I would see these commercials,” she said. “I was watching other children suffer in other parts of the world. The commercials, y’know, you could give 25 cents and save a child’s life. I think to myself, ‘I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all the kids in Africa.’ I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up, and I can get rich, I’m gonna save kids all over the world.’ I just didn’t know I would be in the position to do that by the time I was a teenager. … What the 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.”
Watch full video of the award ceremony below. Rihanna steps up to the podium around the 1:14:00 mark.