Acceptance Is: An Act of Faith

#everyoneissomeone text over a photo of Trisha Perry with her award

Meet Dr. Jeremy Royal

“Tikkun Olam” is a Jewish concept often interpreted as “healing the world.”

For Dr. Jeremy Royal, a 1995 Heisman High School Scholarship national award winner, the phrase has formed his faith and shaped his service to the community.

“It’s a lifelong pursuit,” said Dr. Royal. “In order to continue that process of ‘Tikkun Olam,’ of creating the best moral fabric we have, I think there’s so much work to be done. It needs to be something that’s introduced from a young age and we need to continually remind ourselves of the importance of remaining open-minded and trying not to be prejudiced.

Today, Dr. Royal practices radiology in Atlanta, Georgia, where he remains deeply involved in his community.

As class valedictorian, he juggled three different sports as point guard for the basketball team, a striker on the soccer team, and in both singles and doubles varsity tennis at The Altamont School in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Soccer and tennis are in the same season, so I would frequently do multiple games and practices,” said Dr. Royal. “I’d go from a tennis match straight to a soccer game.”

Off the pitch, his faith led him to promote tolerance around different races and cultures.

He served as director of the Forum for Cultural diversity, as a Make-a-Change volunteer for the National Council of Christians and Jews, and as a delegate to Anytown, which promotes social justice and more inclusive schools and communities.

“A lot of the work we were doing at the time was to promote tolerance and understanding between different cultures, like diversity training workshops all across the city,” said Dr. Royal. “As a Jewish person, coming from a minority, it’s something I felt was particularly important in terms of trying to promote tolerance. I think growing up in a Jewish community only 50 years after the holocaust, tolerance is imprinted on our shared cultural history.”

Dr. Royal was nominated as an outstanding Heisman High School Scholarship candidate by his college counselor at The Altamont School.

In just the second year of the Heisman High School Scholarship program, he was chosen among 8,000 nominees as the male national award recipient.

“There were so many kids there that weekend doing incredible things,” said Dr. Royal. “I thought there was no way I would be the national winner. I remember just feeling shocked and looking at my parents who were equally shocked.”


We need to continually remind ourselves of the importance of remaining open-minded and trying not to be prejudiced and not stereotyping people.

Winning the award was an important affirmation of his convictions, including his career goals.

“It reinforced the idea that our society values not only academics but also service and the importance of always giving back,” said Dr. Royal. “I think that got ingrained in me at an early age. Part of the reason I became a physician is that I wanted to do something positive for other people. Medicine is a field where you can make a strong impact on people’s lives and really practice what you preach in terms of treating others fairly.”

26 years after winning the Heisman High School Scholarship, he sees movement in a positive direction.

“Have things changed? I think so,” he said. “I think that we’ve made progress. But, I think there’s so much work to be done. We need to continually remind ourselves of the importance of remaining open-minded and trying not to be prejudiced and not stereotyping people.”


Today, all Heisman High School Scholarship applicants take the Acceptance Pledge, a promise to treat others with the dignity and respect that everyone deserves.

“It’s such an important, timely pledge in today’s society,” said Dr. Royal. “It’s always been important, but there’s never been a more important time than today. It means accepting people for who they are and where they are in life.”

“Meeting people in the place where they are and being open-minded will go a long way.”

Take the Acceptance Pledge for yourself today at

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