About 875 University of Louisville students are expected to walk Thursday evening in the school’s winter commencement ceremony — among them is the school’s first African-American student to earn a master’s degree in bioengineering.

Britt Faulkner says she grew up in a single parent household. When electronics needed to be fixed, she was often the one giving it a try. So, she says bioengineering was a natural fit. But the program was challenging.

“I’ve wanted to change majors a million times probably.”

Faulkner said she stuck with it because she grew up in an environment that challenged her to attend college. She was also inspired by her cousin who had cystic fibrosis.

Bioengineering is broad field that takes engineering skills and applied them to biology or human health and environment sustainability.

Faulkner was her high school’s valedictorian, participated in extracurricular activities and pushed herself to succeed.

“I just knew I was doing it for my family and I didn’t want to do anything to disappoint them.”

Faulkner says although not many African-American students study bioengineering at U of L, she will miss the diversity the school has provided.  

“I enjoy being a student just because of all the people who come in contact with and just all the experiences. Especially when I was from Ashland and, hey, there was five other black people in town and you don’t get any kind of cultural diversity or anything.”

Faulkner will be one of the 1,500 students expected to graduate this winter, most of who will participate in the commencement ceremony at Freedom Hall at 7 p.m.