Rihanna was in Cambridge on Tuesday to accept her 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year award, delivering a flawless speech that highlighted her philanthropy and motivation to give back.
Glowing in a Monse fall 2017 dress, the 29-year-old embraced fans as she took to the stage.
“When I was five or six years old, I remember watching TV and I would see these commercials and I was watching other children suffer in other parts of the world and you know the commercials were [like], ‘you can give 25 cents, save a child’s life,’ you know?,” she said.
“And I would think to myself like, I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all the kids in Africa. And I would say to myself you know, ‘when I grow up, when I can get rich, I’mma 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. [Laughs]”
“At 17 I started my career here in America, and by the age of 18, I started my first charity organization,” she continued. “I went on to team up with other organizations in the following years and met, helped, and even lost some of the most beautiful souls, from six-year-old Jasmina Anema who passed away in 2010 from leukemia, her story inspired thousands to volunteer as donors through DKMS. Fast forward to 2012 and then my grandmother, the late Clara Brathwaite, she lost her battle with cancer, which is the very reason and the driving force behind the Clara Lionel Foundation. We’re all human. And we all just want a chance: a chance at life, a chance in education, a chance at a future, really. And at CLF, our mission is to impact as many lives as possible, but it starts with just one. Just one.”
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She also made a call-to-action, asking attendees to be humanitarians too.
“As I stare out into this beautiful room, I see optimism, I see hope, I see the future. I know that each and every one of you has the opportunity to help someone else. All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.”
On Tuesday, Dior announced that they will donate a percentage of proceeds from each $710 “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirt to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, that funds effective education and health programs around the world.
You can watch her entire speech above.