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Where are the Taylor Emmons Scholarship recipients now?

The Taylor Emmons Scholarship was formed to go its recipients a boost forward in life at the Out-of-Door Academy. Here's how it is doing.

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East County's Austin Brinling always knew he was a good baseball player. 

He always knew he wanted to be a college athlete. 

But he wasn't sure how he was going to get there. 

When Brinling became a Taylor Emmons Scholarship recipient, he knew his dream of becoming a college baseball player had received a huge boost. 

The Taylor Emmons Scholarship provides an opportunity for socio-economically diverse students to attend the Out-of-Door Academy's upper school in Lakewood Ranch at no cost. 

Brinling's connections and relationships he developed as a baseball player at ODA were what helped him play at the University of North Florida, where he is a junior majoring in sports management. 

"I didn't know the path I needed to go in order to get to that point," he said. "The (ODA) coaches were able to point me in that direction. These coaches were able to get me in touch with travel coaches to help me travel around Florida and Georgia and play in tournaments where all these recruiters would be there to help me go places I never thought I could go."

Brinling, who is hitting .386 for North Florida through 12 games, said being a Taylor Emmons Scholarship recipient makes him feel like he has more at stake than other ODA students and graduates. 

"That's something that very few people get a chance to do," Brinling said. "Since I was able to get this opportunity, I feel like I've been able to take full advantage of it. It's a great honor. I don't know where I would be without it."

Here is a look at what the 11 other Taylor Emmons Scholarship recipients are doing:

Desmond Lindsay
Desmond Lindsay 

Years at ODA: 2011-2015

After ODA: Drafted by the New York Mets and has played minor league baseball for the past seven years. He is working toward earning his bachelors degree while taking a break from baseball to tend to injuries.

School: Northeastern University 

Major: Financial accounting and management

Sierra VanSuch.
Sierra VanSuch

Years at ODA: 2012-2016

After ODA: Graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelors in bioengineering with a concentration in solid tissue engineering

Job: She works for a life science company, Solid Biosciences, working to find treatments for diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Friedreich's ataxia.

Cameron Smalley
Cameron Smalley

Years at ODA: 2013-2017

After ODA: Graduated from Florida State University with a degree in psychology

Job: Recruiter at Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers

Bailey Ekes
Bailey Ekes

Years at ODA: 2014-2018

After ODA: Graduated from Florida State University with a degree in psychology. She’s considered enrolling in a physician assistant graduate program or getting a doctorate in psychology

Job: Medical scribe at Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Austin Brinling
Austin Brinling

Years at ODA: 2015-2019

After ODA: Attending University of North Florida where he plays baseball

Major: Sports management

JJ Easto
JJ Easto

Years at ODA: 2016-2017 and 2019-2020

After ODA: Attended and played football at Albright College until the football program was shut down as a result of the pandemic. Now he’s enrolled at the University of South Florida. 

Major: Political science (planning to go to law school)

Job: He works part time at a Mexican restaurant and coaches youth basketball for the Manatee YMCA

Kaylen Rivers
Kaylen Rivers

Years at ODA: 2017-2021

After ODA: Attending Harvard University

Major: Neurobiology

Dani Taraska
Dani Taraska

Years at ODA: 2018-2022

After ODA: Attending Berry College where she plays lacrosse

Major: Pre-med

Nevan Hernandez
Nevan Hernandez

Years at ODA: 2019-2023

Involvement at ODA: Baseball and fishing club

Plans for the future: Attend and play baseball at Daytona State College

Rebecca Aguilera
Rebecca Aguilera

Years at ODA: 2020-2024

Involvement at ODA: Tennis player, taking three Advanced Placement courses

Plans for the future: Attend Florida State University, University of Florida, University of South Florida or Florida Gulf Coast University to major in biology and go into pre-med

Ben Garcia
Ben Garcia

Years at ODA: 2021-2025

Involvement at ODA: Baseball player

Plans for the future: Play baseball at the college level and earn a degree in physical therapy

Trenton Hitchcock.
Trenton Hitchcock

Years at ODA: 2022-2026

Involvement at ODA: Baseball and fishing club



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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