Graduate Students

Humans of IDP #42: Stephen & Janani

By February 17, 2020 October 11th, 2021 No Comments

This week’s #HumansofIDP are two of our IDP fellows, Stephen Kim and Janani Hariharan. Stephen is a member of our EDUC 2610 teaching team and the Residential Community Specialist at IDP. Janani is one of our graduate facilitators and is currently co-facilitating our course for graduate students. Here’s what they have to say about their experiences with IDP:

How has IDP impacted your experience at Cornell?


My dissertation explores how race, gender, and sexuality are concepts that co-constitute each other. In other words, our understandings of any one of these categories inform and are informed by our understandings of the others. (This could be said for all social identities, but I had to draw limits somewhere — otherwise I would never graduate). So much of my research has been informed by IDP since much of IDP is examining, articulating, and making meaning of the complex and unexpected ways in which our social identities impact our everyday experiences. IDP encourage me sit with (even relish) ambiguities and paradoxes rather than sidestep them or explain them away. An English PhD in some ways is a very advanced degree in meaning-making, and IDP reminds me that when I try to make meaning, I shouldn’t be reductive and obscure the complexity of what I’m drawing from. IDP has also reminded me to be generous as a teacher, to try to keep my assumptions in check when I’m interacting with and grading my students.


IDP has completely transformed my graduate school experience and dare I say — my life? I was always able to identify instances of social injustice but I lacked the vocabulary to understand and process these experiences. This is where IDP stepped in, and having the words to talk about things make it so much easier to understand them! IDP was also critical for me to understand American culture and history in a lot of ways (I’m an international student). I’m very glad IDP exists and I’d like to see more graduate students and postdocs being given the opportunity to engage with this experience.

How do you want to use your experiences in IDP in your future career?


I want my future career to be dedicated to the nuances of social identity and power. I’m grateful to have done my graduate degree where there are programs and departments dedicated to informing students about social identity (shoutouts specifically to FGSS and Asian American Studies). I feel equipped from my graduate education to talk about oppressive structures and narratives. But, what I discovered through IDP was how messy it can get when we make sense of our everyday lived experiences through these structures and narratives. How do structures and narratives affect our understanding of our own experiences? How do our personal experiences affect our understanding of these dominant structures and narratives? And, how do our answers to those questions then guide us to strategies for dismantling structures of oppression and writing back against stereotypical narratives? Those are the questions I want to devote my career to, and I could not have come to those without both my graduate education and IDP.


I will probably end up using the things I am learning from IDP in pretty much all aspects of my future career. This ranges from treating coworkers with respect and creating personal/professional spaces that are truly inclusive, designing recruitment policies that enable the hiring of minorities, using conflict resolution skills to resolve workplace issues and on and on. Most importantly, IDP is helping me live my life in a more authentic way and that is the best gift of them all.