2021 Incoming Grad Series: Abraham Hawley Suarez

by Chava Nerenberg, Graduate Programming Assistant
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 8:00 AM

The 2021 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts about 8 students who are part of the entering class at UCSB.

Our final featured student, Abraham Hawley Suarez, comes to UCSB's Religious Studies department from Mexico City. A Fulbright scholar, he completed his Bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his Master's degree in Sociology at El Colegio de México. Learn about why he is fascinated by the impact of religion on modern societies, his love of guitar, and listen to part of his newly released album!



Abraham is from Mexico City and told us he grew up in an intensely devout Catholic context: his father is a deacon, his mother is a catechist, and up until university, he attended only confessional schools. He said, "In those years, I possessed an apparently unbreakable faith that made me feel wholeness. However, my religious convictions were disrupted when I started college at UNAM’s School of Political and Social Sciences, an institution famous for its politicized student body and its inclination to critical —and even antireligious— social sciences." He told us that this experience was challenging, but helped him to find his intellectual passion: understanding how religious and modern values can coexist and thrive together.

Since then, Abraham says he has become more and more involved in the field of Religious Studies. He won a national essay competition with an essay proposing a framework for believers’ participation in the public sphere and studied abroad in Hangzhou, China. He says this experience strengthened his multicultural appreciation and exposed him to a completely different lifestyle. He will begin his Ph.D. in Religious Studies with the support of a Fulbright Scholarship, which will help to fund his studies.


Abraham told us there were three factors that made UCSB a clear choice for him: the strong academic background of the professors in his department, the beautiful campus, and the warmth of UCSB's community. He said that before accepting UCSB's offer, he spoke with many students, professors, and staff members who all made him feel welcome. He was particularly gratified to connect with another Mexican student and hear about her positive experience at UCSB, and told us he is very excited about becoming a Gaucho.



Abraham is very interested in researching the effect of religion on modern societies. He said, "In the context of a supposedly secular and scientifically-minded world, it is interesting for me how some of the highest ideals that move non-believers are not always the product of growing empirical knowledge, but rather implicit assumptions similar to the dogmas of faith of the religious traditions. Therefore, with my research I intend to understand how religions still have a ubiquitous influence in our modern societies. They persist and manifest themselves in traditional institutionalized ways, but also in new ostensibly secular forms."



Shortly before the pandemic began, Abraham started “jawli”, a music project in which he and a friend create and perform their own songs. Their music is influenced by different genres such as rock, pop, jazz, and bossanova. They just released their first album, which you can find on Spotify and Apple Music. Follow them on instagram or Facebook for updates. One of their songs even won a contest and was featured on a Mexican radio station!

Abraham also enjoys playing the guitar and dancing to Mexican cumbias.

Welcome, Abraham!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series.