The first year of college is one for curiosity and connections — a concept Melissa Diamond, ’15, took to heart as she navigated her first months at the University of Richmond.

Diamond’s exploration began the minute she arrived on campus, when she moved into her living-learning community, Moore International. The residential experience of Moore International is designed for first-year women who share a common interest in international experiences, such as foreign languages, study abroad, and learning about other cultures.

“The best part hasn't necessarily been something structured,” she says. “There’s a high level of trust from spending so much time together. We have really deep discussions; we're able to talk about things like religion and philosophy, or just our future plans.”

The trust established through the residential community fosters the perfect environment for the associated discussion-based course — Women, Virtue, and Temptation in Literature, taught by Lidia Radi, assistant professor of French and Italian. Beginning with Greek mythology, Genesis, and the Gospels, students examine why women are often depicted in the extremes of virtue and vice, followed by an investigation into works that confirm, complicate, or reject this theory. The class also introduces students to learning opportunities around Richmond, such as ballets and operas, the French Film Festival, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

While Diamond hasn’t settled on a major yet, the combination of international and women’s studies has a strong connection to her interests in psychology and international relations. These are subjects she further investigates through WILL, a program that explores the influence of gender and diversity issues across disciplines, cultures, and in their own lives.

“I like to get to know people on a deeper level and learn about them,” she says. “Getting to know more about the world and understanding people has always been a priority for me.”

Diamond’s natural curiosity and exposure to new ideas have served her well in one of her many extra-curricular activities — the University’s debate team. Every other weekend, she joined the team in tournaments around the country, competing in debates on a wide variety of issues.

“We do a lot of research about the topic and practice speaking,” she says. “It’s made me a lot more confident in a debate, and it helps me express my opinions.”

It’s a skill she often brings back to her residence hall discussions. “Debate has helped me engage with the living-learning community,” Diamond says. “Everyone is really passionate about something; everyone has an interest that they want to share. Debate has been one of my interests, so we have discussions about my debate topics. It’s something I can bring back to the community.”