Get To Know Connect’s SBIR Director
Hello everyone! My name is Gretel von Son and I currently serve as the SBIR Director at Connect. I aim to cultivate relationships between government and industry to drive innovation and elevate our community.
I was born and raised in Cuernavaca, a little town near Mexico City. Because of my upbringing, my culture plays a significant role in my professional and personal identity. I am incredibly proud of the hard work and resilience that my roots have instilled in me and take pride in being raised in a culture where everyone is family. We take pride in our hospitality, which I try to extend to my professional roles because I see the value in each person’s unique background and strive to always make everyone feel seen, heard, and welcomed.
I moved from Mexico to San Diego during high school. As if the trials and tribulations of being a teenager did not come with enough obstacles, I just moved to a new country and had to learn an entirely new language. During those years, I confided in books, and found solace in the universality of numbers. Overcoming the many challenges of this transition, which included a whole new education system, I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and further developed an appreciation for my culture and literature by minoring in Spanish.
While pursuing my undergraduate education, I was afforded the opportunity to conduct research in one of UC Riverside’s Materials Science and Engineering labs. The research our team conducted led to multiple publications, which continues to be one of my greatest accomplishments. Our projects helped me develop critical thinking skills that continue to be applicable in my professional roles. Interested in further exploring my curiosity and interest in research, I took my first job out of college as a scientist in a pharmaceutical company, a role that was very different from the lab I had been accustomed to. This new role put me out of my comfort zone, a feeling that I began to love, as it challenged me to learn and adapt.
Learning is one of my passions. I consider myself a lifelong student. I constantly look for the next chance to learn something new, and perhaps I find myself particularly lucky to have so many opportunities to learn at my fingertips. Growing up realizing education is a privilege has made me want to take advantage of the endless possibilities to grow, learn, and develop new skills. This has been a key motivator for how I have chosen my roles, and developed my professional career, furthering my education by earning a Master’s in Business Administration once I realized how much I also enjoyed business.
Pictured: Miss Potts
Pictured: Gretel and the dogs
As a first-generation college student and an immigrant who has experienced the obstacles of being in such a position, I continue to find avenues to mentor and tutor students with similar backgrounds in hopes of offering guidance and support along their journeys to success, so hopefully they can do the same. I am humbled to be where I am today and want to give back to the community that has given me so much and helped me along the way.
Gretel von Son
Gretel cultivates relationships between government and industry to drive innovation and elevate our San Diego community.