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Quillen College of Medicine Admissions

Student Affairs

Joe DiFrancesco

Joe DiFrancesco

Program:  M.D.

Hometown:  Sun Valley, ID

Undergraduate School and Major: United States Military Academy, Life Science

Specialty / Career Plans:  Still Undecided

Extracurricular Activities:  CTO of a Barcelona AI Startup, Drone/UAS Development/Consulting, General Aviation, Freelance Machine Learning, Woodworking and Cooking

Marital Status:  Engaged

Joe DiFrancesco

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Why Quillen
This is a very difficult question to quantify outside of: "it felt right."  Like many of you, I built a massive excel spreadsheet at the beginning of this process, factoring in tens of different parameters.  Most of the schools (Quillen included) were somewhat unknown at first.  One of the big discriminators for me was Veteran support and a history of graduates who transitioned directly from military service to medical school.  As I conducted deeper research into each of the schools on my list, Quillen proved uncompromising across all of my evaluation metrics with regard to class size, faculty to student ratio, national rankings and the plethora of positive student doctor network forum posts.  When I had the opportunity to interview, I knew within the first few minutes that this was the school for me.  It was immediately apparent that Quillen invested heavily into each student and provided an optimum learning environment.

Being a Quillen Student
I have earned my undergraduate degree, graduated from flight school, earned my MBA and attended two computer programming 'boot camps'.  This school is the first institution where I feel I am not the only one invested in my success or failure.  The amount of resources the staff and faculty provide is immense.  I can approach anyone (respectfully of course) and ask a question.  The class cohesion is amazing.  It is refreshing to be in a supportive atmosphere where everyone works together seamlessly.  

Juggling School and Family
The week before I started, I proposed to my girlfriend who lives and works in Spain.  It certainly has been difficult arranging the immigration paperwork and of course being separate from her during the first year.  However, I've never had a day where I couldn't call her and take a break from academics.  I feel well-grounded and have not felt I had to make unreasonable compromises between my personal life and academics.

Living in Northeast Tennessee
I have lived practically everywhere...from Monterrey to rural Alabama to Barcelona. While my prior vagabond life exposed me to a plethora of cultures, environments and people, Johnson City and Northeast Tennessee resonated best with me.  In many places I've lived, it is difficult to find rural communities so close to urban centers.  Often there is a compromise where one must drive half an hour from one to the other.  Here, this is not the case at all.  Good restaurants and shopping are a few minutes away from good trail heads and recreational areas.  Additionally, this mix makes the housing options very diverse.  Cost of living is very reasonable and municipal services are extremely approachable and helpful.  The one downside for an out-of-stater like myself is the lack of a major Airport nearby.  

Prior Life
When I first started my undergraduate degree, I intended on attending Medical School immediately afterwards.  Instead, I took a 10 year break and flew helicopters as an Army officer.  In between duty stations, I took some time to re-evaluate my life goals and realized I wanted to continue where I left off back in college.  I left the Army, applied to medical school and was accepted to my first choice, Quillen COM.   

Words of Wisdom
Make the most out of your time.  It amazes me how much peripheral studying I can get done in everyday places.  Reviewing flashcards in line at the grocery store or watching recorded lectures again during lunch helps me maintain a school/life balance.  

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