Carolyn Mollo was having trouble deciding on a career path when she realized the answer had been right in front of her all along.

The 23-year-old Delray Beach resident had spent eight years baby- sitting the children of a nurse practitioner and saw how satisfied she was with her job. When Mollo’s grandmother was in hospice care in Rhode Island, she saw the impact that one kind nurse could have on a patient. Mollo began reflecting on her own positive experiences with nurses and realized that becoming a nurse was her calling.

She recently completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and passed the board exam this month, meaning she is now a registered nurse.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, she also recently was named nursing student of the year at Palm Healthcare Foundation’s 2010 Nursing Distinction Awards ceremony. The awards recognize people in nursing who go beyond their jobs in the community.

“Winning that award was such an honor,” said Mollo, who grew up in Jupiter.

When she wasn’t busy with school or getting hands-on experience at Jupiter Medical Center, Mollo was doing volunteer screenings for organizations such as the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and Caridad Center west of Boynton Beach.

She sits on the executive board for the Florida Nursing Students Association and runs their website.

“I think it’s really important to have leadership skills when you’re going into the workplace,” Mollo said.

She is moving from her apartment in Delray Beach to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she will be working toward her doctor of nursing practice degree. She also will be working at Shands Hospital as a nurse in the operating room. Her ultimate goal is to become an acute care nurse practitioner.

“I’m so excited, it’s unreal,” she said.

~ samantha_frank@pbpost.com \

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

‘I would go to the White House or Vatican and check it out.’

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

‘Take each day as it comes