Harvard University named Rihanna 2017’s Humanitarian of the Year on Wednesday, recognizing the singer for working to improve cancer treatment in Barbados, where she was born, and for setting up a college scholarship to bring Caribbean students to study in the United States.
Harvard Foundation head Dr. S. Allen Counter commended Rihanna’s efforts on both fronts. “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,” Counter noted. “She has also created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program 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.”
Rihanna is not the first musician to be awarded Harvard’s humanitarian honor. In 2011, it went to Lionel Richie. Other winners include U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, tennis star Arthur Ashe and the actor James Earl Jones. Last year, the award was given to Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Rihanna will be on campus to accept her award on February 28th at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. Tickets to attend the ceremony are free, but a Harvard ID is required to obtain them.