Two Middle Students Receive $20,000 Scholarship

Swift Creek Middle student Ximena Castaneda Aguilar

Johnston County Public Schools middle school students Ximena Castaneda Aguilar and Valery Davis Mendoza are two of the several promising North Carolina seventh graders who were named as recipients of the Victor E. Bell, Jr. Scholarship. 

Each Bell Scholar is eligible to receive up to $20,000, as long as they meet annual renewal criteria. Starting in seventh grade, eligible students will receive $2,000 per year, through four years of college. The funds are contributed to an account in the NC 529 Plan, with the student named as the beneficiary.

Every fall, middle school teachers, counselors, and college access groups from across the state are invited to nominate students whose names will be randomly selected for the scholarship. 

Ximena, a student at Swift Creek Middle, is the daughter of Albaro Castaneda Guzman and Irma Aguilar Martinez. Her teachers say she is a hard working student who continues to excel even during this period of virtual learning. She self advocates and knows when to seek assistance from her teachers. She is also willing to assist others. 

Ximena is known for having a warm personality and getting along well with her peers.  Her teachers say that her strong work ethic and positive attitude makes her the ideal candidate for such a distinguished award.

Smithfield Middle student Valery Davis Mendoza

Valery, a student at Smithfield Middle, is the daughter of Eliezer Tinoco Davis and Maira Mendoza Mejia. She is a second-year Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) student. The AVID program is a college access program that supports students who would be first-generation college students. The AVID program works with students to assist them in meeting their goals throughout middle and high school.

“Valery is dedicated to setting and achieving rigorous goals for herself in all she endeavors to do, and we are extremely pleased she was selected for this scholarship,” said Sarah Anderson, Smithfield Middle AVID Coordinator.

The scholarship is named in honor of the chairman of the CFI Board of Trustees, Victor E. Bell, Jr., who served on the Board for 30 years and left a strong legacy of service to higher education in North Carolina. 

JCPS, Smithfield Middle, Swift Creek Middle, and College Foundation, Inc. (CFI) are thrilled to recognize Ximena and Valery for their hard work, leadership, and dedication to school.