Ariana Pineda is the founder and executive director at STEM-focused Font Femme magazine living in Los Angeles. She is passionate about promoting change in her community, her favorite resource for ongoing learning is YouTube and she wants to teach herself pottery and ceramics next. Read on to learn how she launched a publication during a pandemic and her favorite spot in LA!

Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.

My mission to promote change in my community starts with accessibility to opportunities. To expand opportunities that are not readily available to the majority of youths, I have utilized my insights and skills gained from my own extracurriculars. I love getting my community excited about my own interests and commitments such as research, technology, and community service, and I have devoted my time to connect students to such opportunities using the skills I have gained. 

Founding Font Femme during quarantine allows girls like me – interested in STEM – a platform to learn about opportunities in the STEM field as well as provide a network of girls with similar interests to share their stories! Our magazine features tons of articles regarding quarantine opportunities & resources, tips on landing internships as a student, lessons from the lab, personal anecdotes from accomplished girls in STEM, interviews, and inspiring stories!

Ariana Pineda of Font Femme Magazine - a STEM-focused publication
Image courtesy of Ariana Pineda.

What made you want to pursue your profession/area of focus?

A windstorm was the catalyst that changed the way I looked at my goals and my personal world, and it developed my passion for helping those in need early on in my life. When I was nine years old, a prolonged power outage forced me to experience life without heat and electricity for two weeks. This gave me a newfound awareness of the plight of the homeless, and I empathized with how they endured a life without the basic necessities and comforts that I naively took for granted.

Following this reflection, I taught myself how to code websites in hopes of fundraising to aid those without adequate shelter at this age. At this time, I also enjoyed crafting and making clay charms, which I sold on my website,, and worked with Union Station Homeless Services to use the proceeds to purchase and distribute blankets and food for those in need. Ever since that incident, my desire to contribute to my community by utilizing my resources and my eagerness to learn new skills has been kindled.

I first began to focus on finding ways to solve problems in the community I spend the majority of my time in – school. Transferring from a small all-girl school with a student body of 80 kids per grade to a large, co-ed high school has marked the start of a change in my mindset, purpose, and a new sense of motivation. After coding my first website, I was eager to start my own business, but coming from a small school, it was difficult to find interested peers who were willing to work with me. Due to the small community I was in, not many people I personally knew had the appropriate skills I was looking for.

After transferring to Harvard Westlake, I was immersed in a completely new culture – the people around me seemed to have a clear mission; not just being the winners in competitions or getting the best grades, but taking advantage of every opportunity offered to them to pursue their passions. As a result, the diversity of the community and the drive that every one of my friends exhibits has awakened the most motivated and ambitious version of myself.

What gets you excited to wake up every day?

The unpredictability of tomorrow.

What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself? Why?

Viewing your setbacks as opportunities to demonstrate growth. I think having an optimistic and open mindset really changes my attitude towards personal growth and motivation. I believe viewing your setbacks as another chance to prove yourself worthy through the demonstration of persistence, motivation, hard work – and really letting your character shine through – is definitely key to moving on and improving.

What’s the next thing you’re going to learn or teach yourself? Why?

Pottery. I’ve always enjoyed crafting and have been working with clay ever since 4th grade, but never really had the chance to take ceramics or a class on it.

“Viewing your setbacks as another chance to prove yourself worthy through demonstrating persistence, motivation, hard work, and really letting your character shine through is definitely key to moving on and improving.”

Do you have advice for finding a strong mentor/ building a relationship with one?

Engage with them on a regular basis through phone calls or occasional checkups. That way, you’ll maintain contact as well as bond with them on a much more personal level!

Favorite resources for ongoing learning?

YouTube videos. I’m a pretty visual learner, so watching a quick informational video or tutorial generally helps me absorb info a lot better.

Font Femme magazine, founded by Ariana Pineda, focuses on the stories of girls interested in STEM
Image courtesy of Ariana Pineda.

What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why?

Old Town Pasadena. Great diversity in restaurants, amazing food, so many stores, old architecture, and generally a very cute place to hang out!

Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?

Korea. There are so many places to sigh see, shop, and food is amazing!

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