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Rihanna Delivers Inspiring Speech About Giving Back as She Accepts Harvard University's Humanitarian Award

by Jennifer Drysdale 5:23 PM PST, February 28, 2017
Photo: Getty Images

Rihanna never thought she'd make it to Harvard, but she did just that on Tuesday, as she accepted the university's Humanitarian Award.

The 29-year-old singer was honored by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations for her commitment to charity through the years, both in her native island of Barbados, as well as across the world.

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"So I made it to Harvard," Rihanna joked as she accepted the award. "Never thought I'd be able to say that in my life, but it feels good."

The "Work" singer explained in her speech that her passion for charity started at a young age, as she watched commercials about how a quarter could help save a child's life.

"I would think to myself, 'I wonder how many 25 cents I could save up to save all the kids in Africa.' And I would say to myself, 'When I grow up and I get rich, I'm gonna save kids all over the world,'" she recalled. "I just didn't know I would be in a position to do that by the time I was a teenager."

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Though Rihanna has worked with many organizations across the globe in recent years -- including her own Clara Lionel Foundation, which she started in honor of her grandparents -- she encouraged others to join in giving back, starting with their neighbors.

"All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian," she said.

"What that little girl watching those commercials didn't know is that you don't have to be rich to be a humanitarian, you don't have to be rich to help somebody. You don't have to be famous, you don't even have to be college educated. But it starts with your neighbor," she explained. "You just do whatever you can to help in any way that you can."

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