Laura Ballerini wins 2022 MPhil Prize for best overall performance

Headshot, Laura Ballerini

Laura Ballerini wins 2022 MPhil Prize for best overall performance

5 August 2022

Congratulations to St Antony's student Laura Ballerini for winning the 2022 Eugene Havas Memorial Prize for best overall performance for her MPhil in Development Studies.

In her thesis, Laura critically examined entrepreneurship in community health projects in sub-Saharan Africa. To do so, she zoomed in on Kenya and specifically focussed on social enterprises that use networks of micro-entrepreneurs to sell healthcare products in remote, rural communities.

Two interlinked questions motivated the project: how is entrepreneurship practised and experienced when it is applied to community health? What does it mean to be a Community Health Entrepreneur? By combining a mix of methods, including digital ethnography, in-depth interviews, online surveys, and document review, her thesis found that social enterprises can compound inequalities and exploitation, placing the burden on poor people to ‘enterprise’ themselves out of both poverty and ill health.

Laura explained how her time at St Antony's has enriched her MPhil experience:

Being part of St Antony’s College was a vital component of my experience in Oxford. At St Antony's, I was able to participate in inspiring events and conferences, engage in stimulating discussions with other college members, and have plenty of fun during social events. Most crucially, I also met my closest friends; without them my journey in Oxford could have never been so unique and rich!

Laura will stay on at Oxford's Department of International Development (ODID) to do the DPhil in International Development, co-supervised by Dr Maxim Bolt and Dr Simukai Chigudu. Her DPhil aims to expand and enrich the analytical focus of her MPhil research, and to develop a nuanced understanding of the increasing prominence of enterprise-led interventions in global health.

While her long-term desire is to remain within academia, she would also like to branch out into journalism, and ultimately to become a researcher and foreign correspondent specialising in international development and global health in sub-Saharan Africa.

Photograph: Yuran Shi, Matriculation 2021