Institute of Buddhist Studies Celebrates Its 2020 Graduates

M. Editor  |  May 18, 2020

Nalanda was an ancient Buddhist university in India that served as the site of invaluable learning and translation for hundreds of years. It is said that the earliest scholars passed through Nalanda, bringing sutras to China and aiding in the flourishing of Mahayana Buddhism. Although Nalanda was destroyed, its legacy in spreading the dharma endures, as do the texts and philosophies that emerged from its students. It’s hard to deny that the Institute of Buddhist Studies is the same as it was a year ago; COVID-19 has changed so much in all of our lives. Yet the dharma continues to be true and continues to be valuable, perhaps even more so now, and scholarship continues to be an important part of this. Although we cannot be together physically for this graduation, we feel proud of our amazing graduates and all the hard work they have invested. Today we celebrate their astute scholarship, commitment, and creativity. Like the dharma itself, their accomplishments are just as true and valuable.

A video message from Scott Mitchell, Dean.


In spring 2020, IBS celebrates the graduation of two degree program students as well as three students who have completed certificate programs.

Joseph Schuman, GTU MA, Certificate in Buddhist Chaplaincy

Joe completed the Master of Arts program and the Buddhist Chaplaincy Certificate program.

“In my thesis, I explore the concept of hegemonic masculinity and its potentially problematic impact on processing grief after the death of a loved one. I argue that commonly deployed yet often ineffective hegemonic male responses to grief can lead to complicated grief—an intense and prolonged form of grief. I make the case for Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy as a promising modality for treating complicated grief for men who subscribe and/or adhere to dominant ideals of masculinity.”

In the fall, Joe will begin his Clinical Pastoral Education Residency at a hospital in the Bay Area.

A video message from Joe’s advisor, Daijaku Kinst.


Ryoze Wada, GTU MA, Shin Buddhist Studies

Ryoze completed the Master of Arts Program through the Graduate Theological Union.

“My thesis project pertains to Seikaku, a medieval Japanese Buddhist monk. By critically examining medieval and modern texts from historical and doctrinal perspectives, I have tried to portray the multi-faceted nature of his religiosity. In doing so, I highlighted the unity of his seemingly opposing beliefs and practices.”

In the fall, Ryoze plans to begin his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

A video message from Ryoze’s advisor, David Matsumoto.


In addition to our degree program students, three students completed certificate programs. Gabrielle Haley is the first student to complete our new Online Certificate in Buddhist Studies; Gabrielle focused most of her studies on Japanese Buddhism and is continuing her studies in North Carolina. Tom Hawkins completed the Certificate in Soto Zen Buddhist Studies; he plans to continue his studies at IBS in the Master of Divinity program. Melissa Opel completed the Certificate in Shin Buddhist Studies; she plans to continue her studies at IBS in the Master of Divinity program beginning in fall 2020.

Congratulations to all our graduates! We hope to be able to come together and celebrate as a community in the near future. Best wishes and success in all your future plans.

Please use the comments section below to leave messages for our graduates.

2 thoughts on “Institute of Buddhist Studies Celebrates Its 2020 Graduates”

  1. G Sakamoto says:

    Congratulations all.
    Well earned time to reflect on your studies.Your work will become busier soon enough. Be mindful, enjoy the deep connections you share. Allow yourself time to enjoy this moment.

  2. rhiana says:

    Congrats Joe and Ryoze!!
    So happy for you both and wish we could celebrate in person…
    in gassho,

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