At just 29 years old, Rihanna has sold more than 60 million albums and 215 million individual digital tracks, which makes the celebrated island girl one of the top-selling artists of all time. Of her eight wildly successful albums, Rihanna has managed to secure 14 number-one singles and has won critical acclaim with eight Grammy Awards. If these inimitable accomplishments make you feel like some sort of societal bottom-feeder, things are about to get worse, as Rihanna is now receiving what is arguably her most fulfilling recognition yet: Harvard’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year.
The famed singer is set to receive the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award during a ceremony at the Cambridge campus next Tuesday. “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,” Harvard Foundation Director S. Allen Counter said of the educational institution’s decision.
The Barbadian pop star also created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program for students who wish to attend colleges in the U.S. from Caribbean countries, which she named after her grandparents. She’s also an avid supporter of the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, a notably generous campaign providing access to education in more than 60 developing countries, giving priorities to girls, who are more often discriminated against.
With this award, Rihanna finds herself in good company. Previous honorees include James Earl Jones, Malala Yousafzai, Arthur Ashe and Secretaries General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. “Giving back is important to me and it should be important to everyone,” the musician said at her annual Diamond Ball Gala benefit in 2015. “If you have the ability to help and lend a hand, no matter how big or small, you should definitely make that your responsibility.”
While she may not have won at the Grammys this year (though, if you like the drink, that’s a matter of opinion), Rihanna’s philanthropic efforts outside of music is finally being recognized, which, when you’ve earned the fathomless accolades Rihanna already has in the music industry before hitting age 30, delivers a far greater impact than another Grammy on the mantle.