Embers Ignite Story

KGI Alumna Start Non-Profit Organization Focused on Women in Higher Education

Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) alumna Saraiyah Hatter, MBS ‘22, founded Embers Ignite, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering, motivating, and educating women of color in higher education. Embers Ignite looks to provide resources to women from predominantly underserved communities to help them reach their educational, financial, and health goals.

“The concept of the organization sprouted from a poem that I wrote when I was younger,” Hatter said.

“An ember is from a dying fire, but it can create an entirely new flame, so we want to send out our own embers and spark a flame in other women.”

Hatter first sought medical school after KGI but was exposed to many other career options in industry during her time in the Master of Science in Applied Life Sciences program.

“During the first couple of weeks, I went to a recruiting session hosted by KGI for a great consulting firm and ended up earning an internship there,” Hatter said. “I loved it so much because I’m an analytical thinker, and consulting helped me tap into that at a different level.”

Alongside Hatter is KGI alumna Sophia Montoya, MS ’22, Embers Ignite’s social media coordinator and co-director of health. Montoya said she chose to attend KGI because she wanted to learn about the large variety of topic areas and the interdisciplinary nature of the profession.

Hatter and Montoya make up two of the six all-female board members at Embers Ignite. They’ve built an organization by women for women. All board members currently work full-time while setting down the building blocks for Embers Ignite.

“I am the only woman at my firm, and it is very different coming from very diverse institutions like KGI or the University of California, Riverside,” Montoya said. “I want to help promote more women going into the life sciences and get some women in these roles predominantly taken up by men.”

Embers Ignite’s first big initiative was to launch a scholarship for a college-bound mother in Southern California. The “Ignite Her” Scholarship will award one recipient a scholarship of up to $2,000, and the goal of the fund is to help support student mothers with expenses like groceries, bills, rent, childcare, transportation, books, supplies, and more.

“I had friends, family, and God help me get across the graduation stage, and I want to offer that type of support to women who can’t find it in their lives,” Hatter said. “You can’t live on campus with a roommate when you have a child, it is a totally different dynamic when you’re a student-mother, so we want to provide that type of support for those mothers.”

To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must:

  • Be a mother or one or more minor children
  • Complete an online application
  • Be a resident of the following California counties: Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Imperial
  • Enrolled in an accredited higher education degree program: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or vocational/technical school
  • Demonstrate financial need

The scholarship is also open to mothers who are Dreamers or undocumented. The scholarship is funded by money from Ember Ignite’s six board members. Applications for the scholarship are now being accepted through Monday, October 10, 2022.

Hatter said that the organization is looking to expand beyond the scholarship in the coming years to help women with financial literacy, a mentorship program, health and wellness, and other ongoing initiatives.

“We want to help women as young as sophomores in high school to working mothers in college to feel empowered and inspired,” Montoya said. “We want to build a community that will help each move up to bigger and better goals.”