Service-Learning Advocate Spotlight: Bianca Portal

Bianca is one of the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research’s (CASLR) returning Service-Learning Advocates (SLA). She hails from Chino, CA; with a younger brother who is a current undergraduate student at UC San Diego. Bianca is a senior, majoring in Social Work, and has just been accepted into a prestigious masters program at San Diego State University.

This is Bianca’s first professional office position. She especially loves the combination of work and service that the CASLR provides, and enjoys the caring atmosphere of the permanent staff and her fellow SLAs. She feels that this office is a tight-knit community, a place where she is encouraged to grow in a holistic approach. Her journey of faith is incorporated in every course that she coordinates, where she sees the service aspect as faith in action and a great model of Christ.

As a social work student, which she considers a “helping profession,” Bianca especially enjoys being a part of the process of providing services to the community as well as APU students. Different approaches are utilized, but both have common goals. Bianca also enjoys having opportunities to communicate with her courses’ Community Partners, helping to develop new programs, collecting donations, and recruiting volunteers. Some of the techniques she has gained through her role in the CASLR have also helped her in her additional social work internship.

Last semester, Bianca worked with a second year graduate student, Kristina Quezada, in APU’s College Counseling and Student Development program to launch a brand new Service-Learning event – the 8th Grade Majors Fair. It was held at Center Middle School where APU, Citrus College, and Cal Poly Pomona set up a wide array of interactive college majors exhibits. Bianca enjoyed helping to bring these different parties together in order to support a united cause in an entirely new event. Bianca hopes that when she graduates at the end of this semester, she will have left a solid foundation for the next SLA to be able to build and continue future 8th Grade Majors Fairs on other AUSD campuses.

This semester, Bianca is continuing to work with the nursing Service-Learning courses in APU’s High Desert campus, as well several art classes and a Neurobiology course. For this latter course, Bianca once again helped to coordinate a new event at Center Middle School, were APU students put on an interactive display of the human brain in celebration of Global Brain Awareness Week. She also coordinated the course’s presentation on campus at APU’s Common Day of Learning.

Bianca’s strengths are Individualization, Developer, Activator, Achiever, and Learner. She is able to utilize these strengths in working with APU students with their individual needs, bringing out the best in people, getting projects started and running smoothly, making sure those projects are of good quality, and learning how to serve where most needed; as well as how to delegate and work together with many different partners. Bianca is always willing and happy to help wherever she sees a need.


Mary C. Pearce is the Coordinator for Student Professional Development Graduate Assistant at the CASLR, working on her Master’s of Science in College Counseling and Student Development