John Di Febo has only been in Houston for a few months but says he is already enjoying to his time as a first-year medical student at McGovern Medical School.

Di Febo, 38, originally hails from York, Pa., and was previously stationed at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. Di Febo had a 20-year career in the Air Force before retiring in June and accepted into McGovern Medical School June 7. His fiancé also got a job as a registered nurse at Fannin Surgicare near The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. Coming to Houston was an opportunity for them both to further their careers.

“She loves the area,” Di Febo said.

Heading back to school is an idea Di Febo has been fostering for about seven or eight years. He said he’s always been a bit of math and science nerd, and during his deployment to Afghanistan he volunteered at a field hospital in Bagram.

“I was inspired by the fact that doctors weren’t concerned what side the injured were on,” Di Febo said. “They just said ‘This person is dying, so let’s fix them.’ I thought that was really cool.”

Another source of inspiration is Di Febo’s mother. While her profession as a doctor wasn’t necessarily a factor on his career choice, Di Febo said she is a three-time cancer survivor.

“She was really impressed by the medical center,” he said.

Beyond his career in the military, Di Febo said he didn’t like the idea of being an airline pilot and wanted something “challenging and rewarding.” While he briefly considered going into chemistry, he was attracted to McGovern Medical School and the diversity in both its student body and in opportunities.

“Everyone had great things to say about the UTHealth system as a whole,” Di Febo said. “I knew that Texas treats its veterans well and always has, and I liked the idea of being in the largest medical center in America.”

Di Febo has also enjoyed getting to know the professors.

“I originally thought it was going to be one of those situations where your instructors asks you to look at the person on the left and right and how many people would be gone, but there’s a big sense of cooperation,” Di Febo said.

At the moment, Di Febo’s interest lies in exploring emergency medicine or even surgery, saying that he always chases after the highest goal.

“A lot of piloting skills can translate over into emergency medicine in particular,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to be open minded and see where I end up.”