Rihanna, the Grammy Award-winning artist — whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty — was in Boston Tuesday to receive Harvard College’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year award.
At just 18, Rihanna founded the Believe Foundation, which provided support to terminally ill children. And since then, she hasn’t much slowed down.
Her Clara Lionel Foundation — named for her grandparents — tackles a range of causes, from education to health and emergency response programs. And her work with the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project helped convince Canada to pledge $20 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
In thanking the university, Rihanna spoke about family, and her grandmother’s losing battle with cancer. She spoke of her upbringing in Barbados, and her childhood dreams of saving the world, one 25-cent donation at a time.
Mostly, she urged students to do their part, to make a commitment to help just one person.
“People make it seem way too hard, man,” she said. “You don’t have to be rich to be a humanitarian. You don’t have to be rich to help someone, you don’t have to be famous, you don’t even have to be college educated.
“My grandma always used to say if you’ve got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.”