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.


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 studying Shintoism as part of the "Green," ecologically focused new religious movement, and how it has reshaped itself outside of Japan. His thesis will also encompass the perception of Shinto values in Japanese art, particularly the films of Hayao Miyazaki.


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.