Hollins University's new President is learning, looking ahead after six months on the job

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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) The Inauguration of Pareena Lawrence isn't scheduled until late February.

But in the six months since she took office, she has been making her mark as Hollins University's 12th President.

"I have had a blast," Lawrence said of her first months on campus. "It has been a great time at Hollins for me."

A full year has passed since Lawrence was introduced as the school's next President, and six months since she actually took the reins from President Nancy Gray.

Lawrence has been in learning mode, getting to know the students, staff and faculty, as well as the larger community.

But she and her staff have also been plowing new ground, taking a closer look at what Hollins offers, revamping some majors and adding others.

"We want to make sure that we leverage the resources in our region and build programs that fit our students but also leverage resources," Lawrence told WDBJ7, "so public health with Carilion here just made sense, same with entrepreneurship, business leadership."

Born in India, Lawrence says she hopes Hollins will reach out to more women in other parts of the world.

And she says Hollins' commitment to women's education is strong.

"I think it's really important, not just to empower women, but also help them realize their full potential," Lawrence said in an interview. "And give them a space where they can grow in their potential."

Lawrence also wants people in western Virginia to take a fresh look at Hollins. She says the image of an exclusive women's school is outdated, describing Hollins instead as "a school of access, committed to women's education."