Picture of Jon McNeal Law Scholar

Jon McNeal

United States Army
J.D. Candidate, Class of 2025
Law School

“The Bass Military Scholars Program provides me with a community of like-minded individuals who help each other through what can be a turbulent time in our lives.”

Tell us about your military service. What did you do? Where did you serve? What do you value the most about your military service?

I was an Infantry Officer in the US Army and served in both the 4th Infantry Division out of Ft Carson, CO and the 101st Airborne Division out of Ft Cambell, KY. While in Ft Carson I served as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, and Plans Officer. I deployed with 4ID in 2016 and 2018 to Afghanistan, and to Germany on an emergency exercise in 2017. While serving in the 101st Airborne Division, I served as an Assistant Operations Officer and ended my career as the Commander of the 3rd Brigade (Rakkasan) Dismounted Reconnaissance Troop. In a large sense the Army made me who I am today and taught me the power of both positive leadership and a resilient mindset.

What are your thoughts on mentoring other students while at Vanderbilt? As a role model, what values do you want to share?

As much as I am excited to serve as a mentor for other students at Vanderbilt, I am also ecstatic to learn from them. Students at Vanderbilt today have dealt with far more adversity in their life than I had when I was their age, particularly with the predominant role that the COVID-19 pandemic has played in their lives. I am excited for the chance to share stories that impact all of us, and to help build well-rounded students ready to work towards a better future.

While at Vanderbilt, what will be the focus of your studies and how do you plan to use this knowledge in your future career?

I will pursue my J.D. degree and wish to focus on international law.

What would you tell other veterans about the Bass Military Scholars Program?

It is an incredible opportunity. Across any degree program, I cannot imagine a better school to transition out of the military from than Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is an elite institution in a vibrant and rapidly expanding city that I have been fortunate to call home for the past few years. The Bass program has provided me with a community of like-minded individuals who help each other through what can be a turbulent time in our lives. Finally, the financial benefits that accompany being a Bass Scholar has allowed my family some financial peace of mind for the next three years.