Skip to Content

Department of Anthropology

Interview with Lily Frain

Meet anthropology major and rising start, Lily Frain.  Lily was born and raised in Charleston, SC.  She is a senior and upon graduation from UofSC May 2020 she will be assuming a position at CareAllies Inc., a subsidiary of Cigna a global health services (insurance) company.  Lily says the title of her position is Provider Engagement Analyst, which is insurance industry lingo for an applied anthropologist.  Lily will spend the first two years in training based in Birmingham, Alabama. She will be comparing both urban and rural provider networks.  Specifically, she’ll be in charge of analyzing cases where barriers to health care access result in delays to care which result in unnecessary suffering for the patient and higher medical costs. Her job will be to suggest innovative alternatives to improve access and care. After two years of training, she’ll be assigned her own network of hospitals and health care providers. 


Read on to learn more about how Lily decided that Anthropology provided the most well-rounded education in understanding people, something she said that is essential for most job sectors at home and abroad.


What drew you to anthropology?

 “Even though I took a class in sociology in high school, it was a field trip to a plantation and an interaction with an archaeologist that made a major impression on me.”  Lily recalled that the archaeologist gave her a replica of a blue bead, like one that had once belonged to an enslaved boy. She said, “I kept it ever since.”  And so was kindled her interest in history and people.

 What was your favorite anthropology course?

 Lily couldn’t pick just one, so she shared two. 

 ANTH 391 (a special topics course) Political Economy of Health and Social Inequalities taken with Prof. Magdalena Stawkowski

 ANTH 519 Visual Cultures taken with Prof. Marc Moskowitz

 What is your Anthropology (“DURT track”) honors thesis about?

 Lily has undertaken an original research project in a subfield of cultural anthropology known as medical anthropology under the supervision of Dr. David Simmons.  Specifically, she is studying how existing educational and organizational infrastructures impact health disparities in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in rural South Carolina. In practical terms this means that she is taking a close look at the available forms of sex education/reproductive health in rural districts and the impacts that may have been made on rates of HIV among young African American males since program implementation.  She has led her to track and unpack legislative reforms as they rolled out as subcontracts through a web of organizations.

 What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

 After gaining experience Lily imagines that she will eventually return to higher education to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology. She says that this is entirely possible given that her new position provides support for continuing education.  She also says that she hopes to be well traveled, continue her research and publish it in the relevant anthropology journals and start a family.

 What advice might you offer to new students at UofSC about anthropology?

 Lily advises students to take at least one anthropology course during their time at UofSC.  She said for her doing so was transformational.  Anthropology provides essential training in understanding people – unpacking the complex conditions and reasons that drive people to make the decisions that they do. “It has made me a more empathetic and better person too,” she said.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.