Donna "Aza" Weir-Soley, Ph.D.
Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica and migrated to the United States at the age of 17. She attended high school in both Jamaica and New York but received her diploma from Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, New York. While an undergraduate at the City University of New York at Hunter College, Weir-Soley was in the first cohort of students of color across the United States to win a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship in 1988. That fellowship allowed her to study at the prestigious Oxford University in the summer of 1989 (Oxford Center for African Studies, Jesus College) where she took courses with Professors Anthony Appiah, Houston Baker, Carole Boyce-Davies, Geneva Smitherman, Valerie Smith, and many other notable scholars in the field she would later choose to make her own. She graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College in 1990 and won the Andrew Mellon Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Weir-Soley graduated from U.C. Berkeley with an MA in English (special emphasis in Creative Writing) in 1993, and a PhD in English Literary Studies in 2000.
Dr. Weir-Soley also won a Mellon Travel and Research/Dissertation grant to conduct fieldwork in Jamaica on her dissertation in 2000. In 2004-2005, she was awarded the Mellon/Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship to complete her scholarly work, Eroticism Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings (University Press of Florida, 2009). Weir-Soley is a frequent invited speaker at the annual Woodrow Wilson Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship Conference where she mentors new Woodrow Wilson Fellows (junior faculty) on balancing work and life in academia. She is co-editor (with Opal Palmer Adisa) of the anthology Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), and single author of two books of poetry: First Rain (full length, Peepal Tree Press, 2006) and The Woman Who Knew (chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2016).
Dr. Weir-Soley was unanimously elected Vice President of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars in 2018. She is currently an associate professor of English, and an affiliate faculty member in African & African Diaspora Studies, Women's Studies and the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. In April 2019, she became the coordinator of the Mellon funded Hispanic Serving Institutions Pathways to the Professoriate Fellowship at FIU and will serve in that capacity until the fellowship ends in December 2020. Dr. Weir-Soley is the interim Director of Professional Development and Mentoring for FIU’s newly formed Black Faculty Association.