Graduate Students

The graduate students at the Department of Religion are a diverse group of intellectuals. Many of them come into the program with bachelor's degrees in Religion or Religious Studies, but others have done their previous academic training in related disciplines, such as Philosophy or International Studies. In addition to their formal classroom time, graduate students at the Department often spend a great deal of their free time in social settings together, where they continue to learn from one another. Our small department of graduate students is an optimal environment for friendships to blossom out of a common interest in studying world religions.

Jane Au
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Religion, 2015)

Jane is currently studying Hawaiian religion, hoping to look at the devotional aspects and practices of ancestral Kanaka Maoli. Her work is largely informed by native Hawaiian resources, as well as her prior studies in religious theory and methodology. Jane maintains a deep interest in a variety of religions, as well as the erotic and aesthetic aspects of faith. She is from Haleiwa, Oʻahu and is currently taking Hawaiian language classes to supplement her research.


Kainat Bashir

Kainat Bashir
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
(Religion with minor in Political Science, 2015)

Kainat's areas of academic interest includes Christianity and Islam. She aims to study the confluence between various Islamic traditions and Catholic mysticism in Pakistan. Her aim is to expand her horizon of knowledge in the field of religion and its impact on culture and politics in various South Asian societies.


Amanda Candens

Amanda Candēns
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Hawaiian Studies, 2015)

Amanda's interests include Animism, Daoism, Śāktism, prehistoric fertility veneration, polytheistic traditions, and new religious movements.  Her areas of focus are on pedagogy in religion and cross-cultural research on female deities within a global context from 40,000 BCE to the present day.



Tami_ColeTami Cole
BS, Trinity University of San Antonio, TX (Biology, 1998)

Tami is interested in the academic study of Indian religions, Mysticism, and new religious movements.  She is currently taking Sanskrit with the hopes of pursuing Hindi as well.




Richard Crum
BA, Manhattanville College, NY
(World Religions & Music Performance-Jazz Guitar, 2014)

Ricky is interested in examining the commercialization of indigenous polytheistic traditions such as the way in which Native Hawaiian traditions and Shinto images and practices are marketed in the present day. Ricky has done research on the theological perspectives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the legitimacy of polyamorous marriage legislature in the future of the U.S., and is entertaining the idea of some comparative work dealing with the Babylonian creation mythology as it compares to the creation stories in the Abrahamic traditions.

Audrey Hungerpiller

Auddie Hungerpiller
MA, University of South Carolina (English, 2014)
BA, University of the South (English, 2012)

Audrey is currently conducting archival research, working with a collection of theological commentaries heavily informed by semiotic theory and literary aesthetics. She also holds an MA in English with a focus on Restoration and Augustan literature.



Richard Kaaialii

Keola Kaaialii
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (History of the Pacific, 2015)

Keola is currently interested in all Polytheistic religions, focusing on the function of religion in native Hawaiian politics. Keola has grown up on the homestead of Nanakuli with most of his hobbies in the water such as Surfing, Fishing, Diving, and Music.



Aaron Leonardi

Aaron Leonardi
BA, Humboldt State University (Philosophy, 2013)

Aaron studies Chinese Religious and Philosophic traditions. His research at Mānoa is primarily focused in Chinese Buddhist literature and thought relating to Buddhist Ethics. Aaron is currently also continuing to learn classical Chinese to enhance his work with primary texts.



Monica McConnell
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
(English with minor in Religion, 2015)

Monica's academic interests are in Hawaiian Religion, Indian Religions and Christianity. Her area of focus is on Hawaiian moʻolelo. She is currently studying Hawaiian language to assist her in her research.



Laura_RitterLaura Ritter
MES, The Evergreen State College (Environmental Studies, 2006)
BA, University of Washington (Women's Studies, 2001)

Laura's research interests include Religion and Environmentalism, Buddhism in North America, and Women in Zen. She intends to study the role of power and empowerment within the formation of new religious movements. Laura recently completed 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education and works as a chaplain in Honolulu.