Torey McNeil (’17) Creates A Scholarship For Students With Full-Time Jobs | John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Torey McNeil (’17) Creates A Scholarship For Students With Full-Time Jobs

Torey McNeil (’17) Creates A Scholarship For Students With Full-Time Jobs

Torey McNeil (’17) Creates A Scholarship For Students With Full-Time Jobs

When Torey McNeil graduated last year, the president asked how many students worked either a part-time or full-time jobs. “The entire audience stood up,” says McNeil. “That’s who we are at John Jay, we’re working jobs and we’re driven. With that drive we lead our own way to success.”

“That’s who we are at John Jay, we’re working jobs and we’re driven. With that drive we lead our own way to success.” —Torey McNeil ’17

Getting to John Jay was a long journey for McNeil. “I graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, New York. I was planning on going into the military or becoming a cop,” says McNeil. “Unfortunately, my first time applying to John Jay, I didn’t get accepted. But John Jay had everything I wanted, so I kept trying.”

Along the way, McNeil attended SUNY Canton for one year. “But it was just too expensive,” he says. So, he transferred to Suffolk Community College, and received his A.S. in Criminal Justice. Through it all, he worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.  “I had a security guard license, and I was working some crazy hours in security,” says McNeil. “I also worked in a call center and I was cleaning windows at the mall. I was working all those jobs so I could continue my education.”

Luckily, after finishing at Suffolk Community College, he transferred to his dream school and became a junior at John Jay. “It was challenging, the most challenging experience I’ve ever been through, and I loved every minute of it,” says McNeil. “But at the time, my family was going through some crazy stuff, and my mother gave me and my brother a talk. Basically, she said it was time for us to move out.”

McNeil managed to make rent, graduate from John Jay within two years with a B.S. in Criminal Justice, work security at the World Trade Center, work with the American Red Cross and fill in the financial gaps with “side hustle” jobs.

After graduating in 2017, and embarking on a career as a contracted Watch Analyst for the Office of Emergency Management at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, McNeil started thinking back to his financial struggles while trying to earn his degree. “One of the biggest upsets I have is hearing about friends still trying to get their degree from John Jay. If they say they have to take a year off because of finances, the truth is, they don’t come back,” says McNeil.

Torey McNeil and President Karol Mason
Torey McNeil with President Karol V. Mason at the “Champions of Justice” reception

“I want the Lead Your Way Scholarship to help ease some of the financial pressure. That way, instead of working overtime, maybe the student can spend time with their classmates or their kid.”
—Torey McNeil ’17

That’s why McNeil, who as of May 1 will be the new Sr. Manager of Flier Relations and Security for Fly BLADE, started the Lead Your Way Scholarship for students attending John Jay College who work over 40 hours a week. “I’m hoping that this scholarship will help a student that’s in the same exact situation that I was in. I want the Lead Your Way Scholarship to help ease some of the financial pressure. That way, instead of working overtime, maybe the student can spend time with their classmates or their kids,” says McNeil. “It’s only $2000 right now—$1000 a semester—but I’m hoping to build on it and get more people involved.”

For more information on scholarship donations, visit: jjay.cuny.edu/giving