Class of 2008

Laura M. Fink
 As an undergraduate, Laura focused on Christianity and Islam. After living a year in Korea and then three years in Northern rural Japan, she developed an interest in Asian religions. After moving to Honolulu and living in the multi-ethnic milieu there, Laura became interested in ethnicity and religion, and specifically in the many ethnic churches in Honolulu. She very much enjoyed Professor John Charlot’s course on the Hawaiian origin chant, the Kumulipo, and learning about other Polynesian origin traditions. Laura currently works as a state-certified tour guide for: T.R.I.P. (Tour Religions In Paradise) and takes people to sacred sites on Oahu. She is also a docent for the Manoa Heritage Center, which takes care of the restored Kukao`o heiau.
Sachi Lamb
After graduating, Sachi accepted a position as the Director of Intensive Learning Programs at the University of Maryland. There, she is also continuing her studies in the University of Maryland’s International Education Policy program, focusing on Peace Education. She plans to use her undergraduate degree in conflict resolution and her MA from UH in comparative religion to study the effectiveness of programs around the world aimed at bringing peace to conflict areas. She also continues to stay involved with international organizations like Sahayog Foundation and Emerging Humanity in her efforts to assist in the educational development of rural communities.
Alan LumAlan Lum
After graduating from the UH Manoa graduate program, Alan attained a position as a lecturer of religion at Kapi’olani Community College. He teaches undergraduate courses such as Introduction to World Religions and Religion and the Meaning of Existence. He enjoys teaching both face-to-face and online classes. He continues his interests in religions of the Eastern tradition and Native Hawaiian religion. Alan also teaches Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology classes under the UH Community College Outreach Program system.
Ben LewingerBen Lewinger
 As an undergraduate, Ben was mostly interested in Indian and Chinese tantra, especially notions of the subtle body. He had the opportunity to pursue related topics at the M.A. level at UH, focusing on demons and daemonologies in China, as well as in new religious movements. Ben worked as program coordinator for a local Pureland Buddhist temple for two years, before he spent a year and a half in Taiwan working on his Mandarin and taking lots of photos. Ben currently lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Matt McMullen Matthew McMullen
 M.A. Thesis: Raiyu and Shingi Shingon Sectarian History Matthew entered the program in the Fall of 2004 with a focus on Japanese Religion. Through an exchange program available to graduate students in the department, Matthew spent two years studying at Taisho University in Tokyo. At Taisho, Matthew studied Japanese Language as well as Esoteric Buddhist history and doctrine. His research in Japan accumulated in a thesis entitled Raiyu and Shingi Shingon Sectarian History. Matthew’s academic interests include esoteric Buddhism, Buddhist doctrinal debate, and religious education in pre-modern Japan. He is currently working toward his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
Matthew Mitchell Matthew Mitchell

M.A. Thesis: For a Rainy Day: Rain Practices in Northern Nagano Prefecture

Matt joined the Department of Religion at UH Manoa after teaching and studying in Japan for six years. His thesis was on religious rain practices in Northern Nagano Prefecture, Japan. He is working on his Ph.D. in the Religion Department at Duke University.

Jolyon Baraka Thomas
M.A. Thesis: Religious Manga Culture: The Conflation of Religion and Entertainment in Contemporary Japan Jolyon Baraka Thomas is a PhD candidate in Religion at Princeton University. His research focuses on Japanese religions in the modern period, with particular interest in religion and media and the relationships between religion, law, and the state. Jolyon has published articles and book chapters on religious aspects of the culture surrounding manga and anime. His book, Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan, is available from University of Hawai’i Press. Jolyon’s doctoral dissertation, “Japan’s Preoccupation with Religious Freedom,” examines the implementation of the concept of religious freedom in Japan during the time that the Meiji Constitution was in effect (1890–1947). It focuses on how domestic ecumenical groups influenced religion-state relations and includes a transnational component that examines the role religious freedom played in Japan’s interactions with the United States.