By Paul Coro
GCU News Bureau
Bianca Boling graduated from Grand Canyon University as one of the campus’ finest students and best athletes.
She has risen by lifting others.
Boling leads the Lopes’ softball team by picking up key hits, groundballs and teammates’ spirits. Her boosts extend beyond the softball field’s lines and will continue outside GCU’s walls.
She spearheaded her team’s thousands of community outreach hours, from building a family’s home in Mexico to playing games with pediatric cancer patients to delivering Christmas presents to a family saddled with hospital bills.
With a psychology degree from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which she received Thursday night at spring commencement, and a doctoral future in clinical psychology, Boling intends to be a forensic psychologist studying the behavior of serial killers and rapists.
“I kind of like the worst of the worst,” Boling said.
She has been the best of the best for GCU. Last week, she won GCU’s Ronald L. Beck Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and the $10,000 Kevin and Greta Warren Postgraduate Athletic Scholarship.
In softball, she is the Western Athletic Conference hitting leader with a .441 batting average in conference games. But softball is only one area where she lifts people.
“That’s where I feel my purpose is – helping those who need help, just need a little bit of encouragement and a feeling of worth,” Boling said. “I like to make people smile.”
Following in sister’s footsteps
Boling grew up in Phoenix as part of an athletically and academically driven family. B’s were not acceptable, and the last one she earned came in her first GCU semester. Her freshman year was like a walk to first base before she started running the basepaths of her college life.
Joining the GCU Honors College, where her sister Breanna Naegeli is the assistant dean, as a sophomore turned her tunnel vision into a full university scope. She became involved with community outreach, joined the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, landed internships and intensified her studies.
“I realized the person who I want to be,” Boling said.
“I feel better when I help others who are in need versus serving myself. I like helping people who are in need, especially the lower-income population. I just like giving back and helping them get opportunities that they don’t get because of their socioeconomic status, their history, their background, the way they grew up or their mental diagnoses.”
While other children stuck to cartoons and sitcoms, Boling preferred watching documentaries about serial killers and crime scenes as a youngster. Human behavior fascinated her, and a psychology class at North Canyon High School provided a pathway to her passion.
Boling has been accepted to Midwestern University’s accelerated bridge program to earn her master’s degree while obtaining a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. She already shadowed a forensic psychologist who worked with rapists, and she served as a volunteer intern for Southwest Behavioral and Health Services.
“I like to work with populations that are usually ostracized by society and the ones that are thrown into the dumpsters and devalued the most,” Boling said. “I want to help them.”
Contributed right away
Boling grew up in the dirt, playing softball since she was 4 and attending Naegeli’s softball games. She committed to Lopes head coach Ann Pierson on the first day they met and was starting at first base for the Lopes by the second week of her freshman season because of a senior’s injury.
“She’s been a mainstay in the lineup,” Pierson said. “She doesn’t like to not be the best at everything. She’s so driven. It’s that way in the classroom. She sets very high standards for herself and is all about, ‘How am I going to meet them?’ She knows work ethic, commitment, loyalty, persistence, diligence. She’s been a successful student and athlete in every way.”
Boling’s GCU academic career ended this week, but her GCU softball career will run until at least May 9-12, when she gets to play in the WAC Softball Tournament for the first time. The Lopes’ athletic program was in a Division I transition for her first three seasons but is eligible this year for NCAA Division I postseason play.
As much as Boling expects herself to deliver grades, hits and service, she also is the vocal one to push her teammates’ contributions on and off the field.
“I don’t think it has hit me that I’m almost done with my final year of softball,” Boling said. “We have something special that not many teams have in any athletic program. We all get along. We’re all genuinely friends. We joke around and have fun every day. We tell the freshman you have 20 friends given to you as soon as you come.”