Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, ’78 & Alan E. Wolters, ’88, ’90

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, ’78 M.A.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese, and several of them have been bestsellers both nationally and internationally.

Born in Kolkata, India, Divakaruni came to the United States for her graduate studies, receiving a master’s degree in English in 1978 from Wright State and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Education did not come easily to her. In order to pay for college, she held many odd jobs, including babysitting, selling merchandise in an Indian boutique, slicing bread in a bakery, and washing instruments in a science lab. At Berkeley, Divakaruni lived in the International House and worked in the dining hall.

She teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, where she is the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Creative Writing.

Divakaruni has judged several prestigious national awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award. She is the winner of an American Book Award, a Light of India Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Award, an Allen Ginsberg poetry prize, and two Pushcart prizes, among others. Her latest novel, One Amazing Thing, was the 2011 choice for Gulf Coast Reads, a Houston Region One Book program.

Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies by filmmakers Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges (an English film) and Suhasini Mani Ratnam (a Tamil TV serial) respectively. Mistress of Spices was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in England.

Divakaruni believes in the importance of giving back to her community. She serves on the Advisory Board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and of Daya in Houston. Both are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. Divakaruni served on the board of Pratham, an organization that helps educate underprivileged children in India, for many years and is currently on their Emeritus Board.

For the last 10 years, she has been living in Houston, and shares her home with her husband Murthy, her two sons Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her children’s novels), and Juno, the family dog.

 


 Alan E. Wolters, ’88 A.A, ’90 B.S.B.

Alan E. Wolters graduated from Wright State University–Lake Campus in 1988 with an associate degree in business administration. In December 1990, he graduated from Wright State with summa cum laude honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.

Since graduation, Wolters has been very active in his local community as well as his professional career. On the local level, he was elected to serve as the township fiscal officer of Marion Township in Mercer County for 12 years. He is the past parish council president of his church and is the president of the same parish's finance committee for over 15 years.  Besides being a Sons of the Legion member and Knights of Columbus member, Wolters has volunteered his time serving as a youth softball coach, and even finding time to help Santa Claus at Christmas time.

On the professional level, Wolters became a partner in 2000 at Moorman, Harting & Co. in Celina, Ohio. Also, in that same year he obtained his securities and insurance license to become a financial advisor. Wolters, along with the firm, started Moorman, Harting Financial Services. Both the CPA firm and financial services firm have grown in size and staff.

Moorman, Harting & Co. has hired Wright State graduates to fill approximately 75 percent of their staffing needs over the last 10 years, with the latest occurring this past September.

Finally, Wolters is very proud of his family. He has been married to his wife Tammy for 12 years and they have two daughters, Rachal and Kara.