Jacob and Katie Rhodes: UD’s very own Chip and Joanna Gaines

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Katie and Jacob in one of their treehouse Airbnbs. Photo courtesy of Jacob and Katie Rhodes

Alumni Jacob and Katie Rhodes — class of ‘07 and owners of HoneyTree Farm, a vacation home rental business — have been embarking on quite the adventure since leaving UD.

The parents of four kids decided to dip into the real estate business in 2018 by building several treehouses in Katie’s hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas.

To date, they have five operating houses and plan on listing about a dozen more in the near future.

Although neither of them were business majors, both Katie and Jacob attribute their successful careers to their English majors and UD educations.

“Education [for us] has come a lot from the ground,” Katie said.

“It [has been] a lot of pivoting and improvising, and that is largely due to a well-rounded liberal arts education. Critical thinking has been essential to the entrepreneurial lifestyle that we’ve jumped into because if you can’t reexamine things and come up with new solutions, then you’re just following everyone else and not doing anything different,” Jacob added.

Since both Jacob and Katie have a sharp eye for aesthetics, they take turns coming up with the designs, decor, and architecture that make each one of the homes unique, inspired by the beautiful art and literature that they were submerged in during their time at UD.

“Our years at UD were super enjoyable,” said Jacob. “We both dove into our UD experience with two feet. I mostly dove in on the social side and Katie jumped into academics where she was just a fish in water.”

Together, they shared that their favorite memory was when it snowed on Valentine’s Day during their freshman year. They slid down the Braniff hill for hours on trays people had gotten from the cafeteria.

Jacob remembered that he had given Katie his mittens because her hands were cold even though they weren’t dating at the time. It would take a few more years until Katie gave in to his persistence.

Their experience not only formed their minds and prepared them for their future careers, but it also formed their hearts and prepared them for their future vocation as a married couple.

The couple started dating at UD during their senior year when they both entered the RCIA program, a small twist on the classic UD romance story.

“We owe a lot to [UD],” Katie reminisced. 

“Perhaps our very souls,” Jacob said playfully.

Their lives continue to be a testament of the beauty of a UD education, and just how far an English degree and trust in God’s plan for your life can take you.

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