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Rihanna Fenty and Viola Davis receive Harvard University awards

Against the backdrop of the International Women’s Day, we celebrate these two remarkable women who recently received awards from Harvard University for their immense contributions to the world, Viola Davis and Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the latest recipient of the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award has a lot to be proud of besides her musical accomplishments. The Barbados-born singer was presented with Harvard Foundation’s Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award on February 28.

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

The singer whose philanthropic efforts have extended to cancer patients, girls education among others, started the Believe Foundation when she was 18. The foundation was set up to provide support for terminally ill children. In her Harvard speech she said on being a humanitarian, “all you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.”

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In 2012, Rihanna founded the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) in honour of her grandparents. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados where Rihanna’s grandmother was nursed as a cancer patient, received a donation of $1.75 million. The radiotherapy unit, which the donation was made to, was renamed the Clara Braithwaite Centre for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine.

Rihanna and the Clara Lionel Foundation have teamed up with other organisations such as Dior, Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, which seek to give children in more than 60 countries access to education. It was in partnership with these organisations that she visited Malawi earlier this year.

Rihanna has shown her philanthropic side by the many concerts she’s performed in order to raise funds for charities and her Foundation. The Grammy Award winner, in her acceptance speech at Harvard reiterated her grandmother’s advice to her, “My grandma always used to say if you’ve got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.”

Viola Davis: Photo: Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr/No changes made to the image

Viola Davis receives Harvard award

Rihanna was not the only celebrity Harvard University honoured. Viola Davis, recent Grammy Award winner for Best Supporting actress was awarded the Harvard foundation 2017 Artist of the Year award at Harvard’s Cultural Rythms Festival in Cambridge.

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Davis was praised by Harvard’s students and faculty for her ‘outstanding contributions to American and international film and theatre.’

51 year old Viola also received the Critic’s Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and the British Academy of Films and Television Arts award (BAFTA) for her role in Fences, a 2016 film where she acted as Rose Maxson.

“I spent so many years at Julliard just wanting to beat somebody up. It’s my height of my anger . . . I felt my voice as an artist was being stifled. I want people to be seen. I want them to feel less alone.” Viola said in her Harvard speech at the award ceremony.

Previous recipients of the Harvard award include Quincy Jones, Salma Hayek, Andy Garcia and Shakira.

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