Next week, pop star Rihanna will be accepting the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian Award. Since bursting onto the scene in 2005 with Pon Da Replay, Rihanna has continued to give back to her home country of Barbados,
“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,” said S. Allen Counter, the Harvard Foundation’s director.
It doesn’t stop there: Rihanna created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program in memory of her grandparents. The scholarship is for students attending college in the U.S. from Caribbean countries and supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project. This partnership will provide access to education for children in over 60 developing countries.
This honor comes at a perfect time as we celebrate black history month. Rihanna is the first female artist to receive this honor — and also the first black woman. Singer Lionel Richie got this award in 2011. Past honorees include physician-statistician Hans Rosling; actor James Earl Jones; Nobel Peace Prize Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland; U.N. Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar; gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai; anti-child-labor spokesman Kailash Satyarthi; tennis player and activist Arthur Ashe; former Health and Human Services Director Louis W. Sullivan; and farmworker rights advocate Dolores Huerta.
Admission to this event, on February 28th on Harvard’s campus, is free, but you have to get tickets and have a Harvard ID.