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The Zoe Russell Prize

The Zoe Russell Prize for Most Improved German Language Competence in Year One

Winners of the Zoe Russell Prize 

This prize was established in 2003 by Zoe Russell’s parents in memory of their daughter, who was a student at Warwick from 1993 to 1997, gaining an Upper Second Class BA Honours Degree in German and Business Studies. The £200 prize recognises the importance of hard work in improving key language skills and is awarded to one student, or shared between two candidates, who show the most improved performance in their language work in Year 1. In 2020 the scope was extended to include a prize of £100 for Beginners German for the student with little or no previous knowledge of German who makes most progress in their first year. In accordance with the wishes of Zoe’s parents, the prize money is intended to be used to support some aspect of the recipient’s language learning.

Zoe was born in Berlin in December 1974. Her childhood included five years spent with her family in Austria, where she attended the Vienna International School. She completed her secondary education at Alton Convent School and Alton Sixth Form College in Hampshire. Her ‘O’ and ‘A’ level German studies included visits to East and West Germany, and Berlin. Family holidays were often spent in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

Zoe Russell

Zoe in her final year at Warwick

During Zoe’s degree course her year in Germany was spent at Kaiserslautern University, working for Coopers and Lybrand in Dusseldorf and for Citibank in Frankfurt. Following graduation, Zoe worked for BDO Stoy Hayward in London from 1997 to 2001 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. She kept up her German and visited Berlin on business. In August 2001 she took up an appointment as a Senior Operational Auditor on corporate governance work at the BBC. In February 2003 Zoe died from a chronic lung disease which first developed when she was a child.

The Zoe Russell prizes for the most improved performance in first-year language work are a key element in the Department’s language learning programme, and a fitting tribute to both Zoe’s and the Department’s commitment to the study of German language and culture. It is a source of inspiration to students facing the crucial challenge of bridging the gap between school and university.

The German Department owes a large debt of gratitude to Zoe’s family for establishing and funding the prize, and also to Neil Douglas, a fellow student of Zoe at Warwick, for raising the initial funding.