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.


Tami Cole

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

Tami is studying Indian Religions with a focus on medieval yoga traditions, specifically Hatha yoga as exemplified in the Hatha Yoga Pradipikia. The focus of her research will attempt to draw links between the psychological and physiological implications of this yogic philosophy and how it relates to contemporary yoga practice. She is studying Sanskrit to aid in a more comprehensive understanding of the sutras.


Allen Freese
BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Chinese Language, 2014)

Allen has been working as a translator and editor for a Taiwanese Buddhist-based non-profit organization that focuses on charity and relief work. He will be studying Sanskrit this semester, and hopes to pair it with his background in Chinese language to study the transition of Buddhism from India to China. Specifically, he wants to research the development of the focus on altruism in the Chinese Mahayana tradition.


Paige Calvert Kaʻohu Kawakami

BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Religion with a Certificate in French Language, 2014)

Paige is studying Hoʻomana Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Religion), and conducting research on the pedagogy of indigenous religious traditions. She hopes to teach Hawaiian and other Polynesian religions at the college level, and to inspire enthusiasm for the material in her students. Paige has studied French and Hawaiian language, and plans to continue to pursue these languages as a means of accessing knowledge about her areas of interest. Paige is from Pālolo, Oʻahu.


Richard L. Mason

BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Religion and English 2017)

Mason is studying Heathenry/Northern Paganisms/ Asatru as new religious movement. He is especially focused on the unique opportunities that Hawaii provides these faiths. He plans to stay in the UH Manoa system as an Educator.


Sara Phelan

BA, University of West Florida (Art Psychology, 2001)

Sara is focusing on Indian Studies with an emphasis on the system of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Her research is motivated by the science of meditation and the impact that our thoughts have on our physiology, mental and emotional well being, as well as on our current day society and mental health as a whole. Her research includes Yoga theory and methodology dating back thousands of years ago that are still relevant today on how to move beyond the busy mind and the fluctuating mental and emotional states that often cloud our perception while cultivating a willingness to turn inward to reconnect to the Divine within. She has also studied Hindi the last two years in an attempt to better understand present day India and to have the opportunity to speak and connect with the Indian people on a more intimate level.


Zachary N. Soriano

BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Religion, 2017)

Zachary is from Honouliuli (Ewa Beach) on the island of Oʻahu. He is interested in the LDS mission in late 19th century Hawaiʻi and how the first missionaries integrated into Hawaiian society. He is also interested in how they were accommodated (or resisted) by the Hawaiian community, Hawaiʻi residents and other religious groups operating at the time. His research entails examination of missionary journals from the late 1800’s as well as Hawaiian and English newspapers in print at that time.


Hannah Stoltenberg

BA, Belhaven University, MS (Biblical Studies, 2014)

Hannah’s research interests include the academic study of Asian religions with a focus on Hinduism and Islam in South Asia. She is interested in examining the role of religion in society, the relationship of differing religions in the same community, and the influence of religion on art and common culture.


Cole Williams
BA, Virginia Commonwealth University (Religious Studies, 2016)

Cole is studying the relationship between religion, law, and politics in contemporary India. He is particularly interested in how the concepts of secularism and religious freedom, two highly contested terms in South Asian politics, are interpreted by the Indian judiciary. He has been studying Hindi since 2016, and has been continuing his language study along with his research.