Barbadian pop star Rihanna is accustomed to winning awards for her music. But next week, she will be given one that has absolutely nothing to do with her vocal talent.
Rihanna — whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty —has been named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year for her charity work, and will accept the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at the campus of the prestigious university on February 28,.
The philanthropist, chart-topping singer, actress, and songwriter who has sold more than 200 million records, joins an illustrious roster of past recipients that includes Nobel Peace laureate and gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai; United Nations Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar; singer Lionel Richie; and late tennis champion and activist Arthur Ashe.
Pointing out the work Rihanna had done, Harvard Foundation’s director Allen Counter noted that she “charitably built a state-of-the-art centre for oncology and nuclear medicine” to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in her home country.
“She has also created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Programme [named for her grandmother and grandfather] for students attending college in the US from Caribbean countries, and supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, a multiyear campaign that will provide children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls and those affected by lack of access to education in the world today,” Counter added.
Every year, the Harvard Foundation recognizes prominent public-spirited leaders in honour of the late Gomes, an American preacher and theologian, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard Divinity School and Pusey Minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church.