Farren Billue, '12

Farren Billue, '12

February 4, 2011
'Science nerd' by day, songstress by night

Farren Billue, ’12, says that one of the best things a person can have in life is a beautiful smile.

A singer since the age of 5 and pre-dental since her first year at Richmond, Billue is an Oliver Hill Scholar originally from Radford, majoring in biochemistry with a minor in medical humanities.

Billue first visited Richmond when her older sister took a campus tour, and when it was her turn to apply to college, she said she loved the small size of the campus, the community and how helpful the teachers were.

“In high school I knew that I wanted to be a dentist,” Billue said. “I hope that in the future I can work in areas that lack accessibility to dental care.”

Billue is the head resident assistant of Moore Hall, a member of PAM (Peer Advisor Mentoring), part of the Pre-Dental Club and went on the Peru spring break trip last year with political science professor Rick Mayes’ class. She has also been a member of Schola Cantorum for the past two years, but had to take a break this year because of a busy workload.

“People know I’m a biochemistry major but they don’t know I’m a big science nerd,” Billue said. “All my friends always say, ‘You’re undercover—no one will ever know!’”

One thing people do know about Billue is that she has an incredible voice—one that people keep hearing, no matter where they are on campus. Billue lent her voice to the Department of Theatre & Dance’s musical, “Rent;” she performed at the University’s annual MLK Day commemoration and at the opening ceremonies of Black History Month; and she’s been singing the National Anthem at basketball games this winter.

Billue says her favorite places to sing are in Gottwald, in Booker Hall or in her room—and the shower, of course.

“I’m in Gottwald all the time,” she said. “Third floor, chemistry department. If you come up there, you’ll definitely hear me singing. Booker—room B22—is my favorite room to sing in.”

She first started singing in school choirs, but credits her grandmother and her hometown church with inspiring her singing career. Her grandmother taught her to sing, and her church gave her the opportunity to sing her first solo, “This Little Light of Mine.”

Richmond has offered Billue the same sort of inspiration, especially this fall when she got to perform the solo, “Seasons of Love,” in “Rent.” Billue says she tried out on a whim when her friend convinced her to tag along to her audition. The director, theatre professor Dorothy Holland, ended up placing her in the ensemble.

“Dorothy Holland always brightens my day when I see her,” Billue said. “Dorothy has so much energy and is never afraid of anything, which is why I respect her. She inspires me to be bold and to think outside the box. I often draw my own energy from her.”

Billue will begin applying to dental school this summer after she takes her DATs. She would like to attend school somewhere in Pennsylvania, but says VCU would also be a great choice because it’s in-state.

“It would be a dream to record an album someday, but right now [singing is] just something on the side I like to do to relax,” she said. “I love Alicia Keys and singing any of her music—her range and the way she belts.”

Billue says that Richmond has taught her that she can balance her two passions and still get involved in so many other things.

“I have learned that in order to keep balance you must give priority to things and stay organized,” Billue said. “I try to live by the saying: ‘The quality of your yeses depends upon the quantity of your noes. If you're doing what you love, you find time to schedule it.’”