Rihanna is Harvard’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year


The other day, my daughter and I were taking a Buzzfeed quiz and one of the questions asked which celeb we would marry or something. My daughter picked Rihanna because, she said, “she’s sassy.” I’m kind of on board with my daughter aspiring or being attracted to Rihanna-level sass (or Rihanna in general, really). I say kind of because I really don’t know much about Rihanna other than her music and what I read here. However, now I have yet another reason to be thrilled that she will be my daughter-in-law because Rihanna, it turns out, is as charitable as she is sassy and Harvard is recognizing her for it. Rihanna founded the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 to fund cancer treatment in her native Barbados. In addition, Rihanna also formed the Clara Lionel (her grandparents names) Foundation Scholarship Program to provide financial assistance for students from the Caribbean attending school in the U.S. That, and her work in Malawi to promote education has made her the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award recipient for 2017. Brava, Rihanna!

The 29-year-old singer has been named Harvard University’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year, and will be presented with the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award during a ceremony on campus next week. 

“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,” S. Allen Counter, the Harvard Foundation’s director said in a statement on Wednesday. “She has also created the Clara Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program [named for her grandmother and grandfather] for students attending college in the U.S. 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.” 

The “Work” singer, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, founded the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, a charity aimed at improving impoverished communities around the globe. Last month, Rihanna set off on a mission to promote education in Malawi on behalf of her foundation and the Global Citizen organization. 

Harvard’s annual Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes “public and spirited leaders” in honor of the late Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes. Past recipients include actor James Earl Jones, U.N. Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai.

[From ET]

The ceremony is next Tuesday for any Cambridge, MA fans. Look at that list of award recipients! Could you imagine having your name listed alongside those luminaries? Not to mention, Rev. Peter J. Gomes was amazing in his own right. I’m thrilled Rihanna is getting this award if not for the least reason that I am reminded of all her amazing work. How perfectly classy to slide behind the scenes and do so much good work for so many, all in her grandparents’ name.

Speaking of amazing work, Rihanna ‘s latest single, Love on the Brain, rose to number 8 on the charts, which has landed Rihanna among another list with esteemed company. With her 30th Top Ten hit, Rihanna is now number three behind Madonna and the Beatles for the most top ten hits ever. So confident, sassy, humanitarian, youth advocate and record-breaking musician. Not a bad CV. Guess we know what was in her bedazzled flask at the Grammys: Awesome-Sauce.

Seriously, my heartiest congratulations to Rihanna. She and her family should be very proud of this.



Photo credit: WENN Photos and Getty Images

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15 Responses to “Rihanna is Harvard’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year”

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  1. Lilly says:

    Good for her. I have always liked her attitude and the way she carries herself, and the charity work is great

  2. huh says:

    Congrats Riri! I love it when they are so low key about their charitable efforts.
    And Hecate you sound like an awesome mom

  3. Ashley says:

    So happy for her,getting your work recognize is the icing on the cake. I am so happy she has matured over the years and is so private now.

  4. Elle says:

    Why is her charity so odd?

    The link to her Clara Lionel Foundation leads to a landing page where you can sign up for a newsletter or donate money, but there’s no information about their accomplishments or the board or applying to their scholarships. The guidestar.org data on the charity is also very out of date and incomplete. I hope everything is on the up and up because I like RiRi. Maybe it’s just disorganized. I imagine Havard would have checked on it before giving er an award Kofi Annan got. Congrats to her.

  5. Cherrypie says:

    WOW…congrats to Rihanna! So happy for all her achievements listed in this post. Keep it up Rih. #Awesome-Sauce

  6. loveotterly says:

    The fact that this was so under the radar makes me love her even more. Love this woman.

  7. QQ says:

    Ive read before that she actually has college funds and the likes for a lot of her employee kids and such, she is a good egg

  8. Almondjoy says:

    Amazing! Congrats to Rih. She works hard and doesnt feel the need to broadcast all of her efforts. Also very sad that there are barely any comments on such a positive post.

  9. Izzy says:

    I had no idea she did this! Very cool. Her sass is awesome. And “Love on the Brain” is amazing.

  10. Cherrypie says:

    This is my preferred mode for doing charity. Not everything having to be highlighted via photo- ops or otherwise being blasted on Social Media.

  11. detritus says:

    Just honking because I always and forever love Rih., and I am feeling very smug and justified after this post.

  12. margie says:

    She is amazing.

  13. b says:

    thanks hecate- sensitive and thoughtful- Rev. Gomes is a wonderful example of how to move in this world.

    • b says:

      (note: my *conservative* family has always respected his approach, and, I believe, taken it as a point of entry for real discussion)..(about priviledge, scriptural interpretation, social issues, new perspectives…etc) His example is usually one that is held up for ..”Talk more! Talk more..let’s understand each other more..”)