Alum connects with forensic psychology students

January 27, 2022 / by / 0 Comment
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GCU alumna Bianca Boling, who is pursuing her doctoral degree in psychology from Midwestern University, shared some of her challenges with GCU forensic psychology students.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

It wasn’t long after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Grand Canyon University in 2018 that Bianca Boling jumped into her doctorate.

The stellar student (and star softball player during her time at GCU) has learned firsthand some of the challenges many learners face when transitioning to graduate school. While pursuing her doctoral degree in psychology from Midwestern University, Boling not only has fully immersed herself in her studies, but she also has traveled across the country to complete a clinical psychology internship at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

It is the kind of journey that GCU’s forensic psychology students could find themselves taking if, like Boling, they choose to pursue graduate school. And it is for that reason Honors College Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli, Boling’s older sister, made it a priority to connect her students to someone who could give them a look into what the field is really like.

Boling (top left) discussed the ins and outs of the field.

This week, Naegeli hosted a Zoom session for forensic psychology majors in her Honors Symposium course (HON-110) to connect with Boling. Forensic psychologists often specialize in civil, family or criminal casework, interacting with attorneys, judges, victims of crime and criminal offenders.

“I think these opportunities for current Honors students to engage with and seek mentorship and insight from alumni currently the field is invaluable,” Naegeli said. “It is abundantly evident that the students appreciate the opportunity to form this relationship and to ask questions. It helps to complement what they hear in the classroom setting from faculty and staff as well.”

From graduate school and internships to work/life balance, Boling did not shy away from sharing what she has learned since completing her bachelor’s.

Naegeli wanted someone who could help break down the differences in the field and help students find their niche: “Bianca did an exceptional job thoroughly explaining her role in forensic psychology, how diverse the field is, and how to best prepare for a career in psychology,” Naegeli said. “She helped to differentiate roles in law enforcement, the legal system and forensic psychology, but also shared how they collaborate as well, which was a topic of interest for the students in attendance.”

For session attendee and forensic psychology sophomore Kacey Woods, it was an opportunity to gain insight while also creating a connection to a professional in the field.

Boling played softball for GCU before graduating in 2018.

“The Zoom session was a great experience that was informative and influential in regard to how I plan to pursue my degree,” she said. “I have known that I have wanted to study forensic psychology for years but have always been concerned about how I would achieve my degrees. Talking with and listening to Bianca Boling helped to show me the civilian side of forensic psychology and how you do not necessarily need public safety or military experience to be active in the legal system as a psychologist.”

Learning how to understand biases and how to avoid them when working with others was a particularly important takeaway for Woods.

It is the kind of experience that has made her time as an Honors student that much more valuable.

“As a student, the fact that the Honors College has these opportunities for students to participate in is a relief,” she said. “One of the worries I have as an undergraduate student is whether or not I will be able to network with others while also being able to experience various educational and employment opportunities. The events the Honors College holds combine both of these as they aim to prepare students to be ahead of the game in understanding what careers they want and the direction this will take them.”

As great of an experience as it was for students, Boling also left the session with a sense of pride, having had the opportunity to positively impact GCU students who have goals similar to her own.

Boling (right) said the Honors College helped her flourish in her career.

“I’m really excited to give back to my community and my fellow students in that way, specifically at GCU, since that is my alma mater,” Boling said. “Being in the Honors College has helped me flourish in my career, so it’s really kind of cool to be able to come back to the Honors College and talk and provide those resources that they once provided me.”

As Boling nears the completion of her program, with hopes of graduating this spring, returning to Phoenix and continuing to give back to the Honors community is an opportunity near and dear to her heart. And if this week’s Zoom session was any indication, Boling and the Honors College may be collaborating even more in the future.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].

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