Washington native Jake Rehm has turned higher education into a full-fledged hobby.
“Some people build model airplanes. Some people paint watercolors. Some people get extra master’s degrees,” he said. “My family and friends think I am crazy, but some people are wired to get extra master’s degrees.”
Rehm completed the online Master of Arts — History program at Eastern Washington University (EWU) in June 2022. He now has three master’s degrees.
“When I finished my master’s degree in theology, I was interested in studying church history,” he said. “I was accepted into a Master of Divinity program at a school in Minnesota. I got a scholarship offer, too.
“I was excited about the opportunity, but I knew that I could study the same area in the Master of Arts — History program at EWU that I would in seminary, although I might not do so under the presumption of a faith-based curriculum.”
Rehm is the director of the URC Fitness Center and teaches physical education courses at EWU. He is also a post-graduate research assistant at Historical Projects, Inc., on a part-time freelance basis.
“I was able to continue researching areas of church history and religious history, as well as other areas,” he said. “The research I primarily did was of historical monuments in the region, who put them up and why. It was one of those serendipitous events that worked out wonderfully for me.”
For all his college experience, the Master of Arts — History program was Rehm’s first time as an online student. He and his wife, Jessica, who teaches communications and public relations classes at EWU, have a daughter, Keelie (1), at home, so the flexibility of the online format was important.
“The ability to take classes at my own pace was wonderful,” he said. “Our schedules are pretty hectic.
“It was an efficient way of learning — and I learned a lot. There was enough built into the classes to keep me accountable and provide oversight.”
Change of Direction
Rehm is from Omak, Washington, and originally planned to become a physical education teacher. Instead, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in recreational management (2006) and a master’s degree in physical education from EWU two years later. His second master’s was from Whitworth University in 2020.
“I found a job as a recreation professional at a prison,” he said. “It was not the most desirable career setting, but I’d go for a drive or a bike ride on my day off. I’d go through these towns with these interesting historical markers or sites.
“The more I did it, the more I got to know my family ancestry. That led to interest in the history of the region, which has blossomed into a million different directions. Life figures itself out.”
Rehm’s favorite course in the online Master of Arts — History curriculum was Introduction to Historical Studies, which he took last.
“It was a freak situation where it worked out that way,” he said. “I had already done so much work in the program, but for most of the other students, it was their first class in the program.”
Although Rehm does not work in the history field currently, he can apply the information he learned in the program. He is also the first person in his immediate family to earn a master’s degree.
“I am a member of several historical societies,” he said. “I have presented at a couple of conferences since I graduated. I recently spoke at a historical commission about church building. They are expanding my network and my knowledge that will potentially open opportunities for me in the future.”
Now that he has a third master’s degree, Rehm hopes to combine his passions to become a history professor. Of course, he’s also not ruling out a return to college as a student.
“Because I teach at the university and am vested in my position, I am waiting for the opportunity to come where I could teach a history class here on campus or at Whitworth or Gonzaga University,” he said. “I might do a Ph.D. program.
“If I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I was able to do whatever I wanted, it would be to obtain a doctorate in northwest religious history. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, there are worse ways to spend one’s time than getting another degree.”
Rehm believes staying the course is the key to success in the online Master of Arts — History program.
“It’s important to take it one day at a time,” he said. “It can be overwhelming at first. Stick with it. I also got great bang for my buck. This was, by far, the master’s program that was easiest on my pocketbook.”
Earning another master’s degree at a familiar university was a bonus for Rehm, who plans to never stop learning.
“This program was for my enrichment,” he said. “I did it because it’s a labor of love. I have studied history my entire life. To be able to apply it in an academic setting was a joyful experience.”
Learn more about EWU’s online Master of Arts — History program.