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The Department of Religion is very proud of its alumni from the Master’s program. Over the past ten years, approximately 40% of our alumni continued on with their graduate education, entering a Ph.D. program in Religion or a related field. Recently, we have had graduates heading off to Ph.D. programs at Princeton University, Duke University and the University of California Berkeley. Over the past five years, our students have entered programs at Claremont, University of Texas Austin, University of Stirling in the UK, University of Indiana, Ohio State and doctoral programs here at the University of Hawai‘i. Other alumni have taken administrative positions at universities, and many are teaching at community colleges here in Hawai‘i and on the mainland.

The Department of Religion tries to stay in contact with our alumni. We invite alumni to contact the Department Chair, and let us know of your recent accomplishments. If any graduates from the last three or four years would like to have a profile on this page, please send a picture and a short statement to our secretary.

Featured Alumni

Among our former graduate students currently working in academic fields, here are several remarkable examples:

Stephen G. Covell completed an MA in Asian Studies at UH in 1993. His thesis was entitled, Nichiren and Tendai: An Examination of Nichiren’s Use of Tendai, and his main thesis advisor was George J. Tanabe, Jr. In his own words,"the faculty in the Religion department were amazing and led me to make the study of religion my career." Covell holds the position of Chair of the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University, and thrives there as a productive scholar.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo completed her MA in Religion in 1993, before moving to the UH Department of Philosophy and completing her Ph.D. in 2000. She is teaching as an Associate Professor at the University of San Diego in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies and keeps producing numerous publications.

Denise Noelani Arista graduated in 1998 from the Department of Religion and completed her Ph.D. at Brandeis University. In 2010 she won the Allan Nevins Prize for the best written doctoral dissertation written on an American subject. She teaches as an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at UHM.

Ron Kekeha Solis graduated in 1999 from the Department of Religion. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Hawaiian in the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Kamoa`e Walk graduated in 2001 from the Department of Religion. He is currently Director of the Hawaiian Studies program at Brigham Young University Hawai‘i.

Erik Hammerstrom graduated in 2003 from the Department of Religion. He is currently Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University in the Religion Department, where he teaches about religions in China and East Asia. In June 2011, Erik was awarded the Stanley Weinstein Dissertation Prize for the academic years of 2008-2010 by the Council of East Asian Studies at Yale University.

Alumni in the UH System

In addition to the individuals above, several former graduate students of the Department of Religion went on to teach for the University of Hawai‘i. The list below features our alumni who teach or have taught in the UH system, or have occupied other positions, preceded by their year of graduation. These accomplished individuals represent our department's crucial contribution to the State of Hawai‘i and to its education. The years listed below indicate when they first landed this position, not the year of graduation.

  • 2014: Nani Kaʻaialiʻi, lecturer at UHMānoa and Kapiʻolani Community College
  • 2013: Kayla Keehu, lecturer at UHMānoa
  • 2011: Christine Walters, lecturer at Leeward Community College
  • 2009: Justin Stein, lecturer at Windward Community College
  • 2008: Alan Lum, lecturer at Kapiʻolani Community College
  • 2007: John Sweeney, lecturer at Kapiʻolani Community College and UH Mānoa
  • 2006: Nick Franchini, Faculty Specialist and lecturer at UH Mānoa
  • 2005: Sarah Hadmack, tenure-track Assistant Professor at Windward Community College
  • 2004: David Falgout, lecturer at UH Mānoa
  • 2004: Kelikokauaikekai Hoe, tenure-track Assistant Professor at Windward Community College
  • 1999: Ron Kekeha Solis, tenure­track Assistant Professor at UH Mānoa
  • 1998: Denise Noelani Arista, tenure-track Assistant Professor at UH Mānoa
  • 1997: Jonathan Boyne, tenured Faculty Specialist at UH Mānoa Hamilton Library
  • 1997: Kuʻualoha Hoʻomanawanui-Meyer, tenure-track Assistant Professor at UH Mānoa
  • 1996: Eric Denton, tenured Associate Professor at Kapiʻolani Community College
  • 1996: Candi Cann, lecturer at Leeward Community College
  • 1992: Achilles Gacis, lecturer at Kapiʻolani Community College
  • 1990: Jay Sakashita, tenured Associate Professor at Leeward Community College
  • 1987: David Shideler, lecturer at University of UH Mānoa
  • 1986: David Wong, tenured Professor at Honolulu Community College
  • 1985: Ramdas Lamb, tenured Associate Professor at UH Mānoa Religion
  • 1982: Ross Christensen, tenured Librarian at UH Mānoa Hamilton Library.
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