Where are they now? Dr. Christine Sonners, Prairie High School Class of 2010


Three-sport athlete in high school is now an intern at University of California San Diego

Her top priority in high school was academics, but she also put a major emphasis on athletics. 

Academics. Athletics. 

Working together, they helped shape Christine Sonners.

Today, she is Dr. Christine Sonners.

Dr. Christine Sonners, a 2010 graduate of Prairie High School, is in residency at the University of California San Diego. Photo courtesy Christine Sonners
Dr. Christine Sonners, a 2010 graduate of Prairie High School, is in residency at the University of California San Diego. Photo courtesy Christine Sonners

“We work so closely in teams in medicine,” said Sonners, a 2010 graduate of Prairie High School. “I just feel like my whole life in sports has totally prepared me to be a team player. As cheesy as that sounds, I think that’s been awesome.”

She was a varsity basketball player her first three years in high school with the legendary Prairie program. She ran cross country. And she shined in track and field. 

“I’ve worked with all different types of people, had different roles in sports,” she said. “The goal now is patient care. The goal in sports is to win. Not one person can do it all. If you try to do it all yourself, it’s not going to go well. I love that sports gave me that attitude and the ability to work with people.”

Today, Dr. Sonners is an intern at the University of California San Diego in the internal medicine program. She said it is like she is a freshman again. Even after earning the title of doctor, there is so much still to learn.

Sports, she said, has helped her process those teaching moments, the willingness to be corrected.

“You’re being coached to be a better doctor,” she said, noting it is the same as a coach trying to make one a better athlete.

Instead of taking it as a negative, that she is not good enough, she understands this is how she will improve.

“Thank you for making me better,” she said.

At Prairie, she was a freshman on varsity in one of the greatest basketball games in Clark County history when Prairie beat Skyview in double-overtime for the district championship in front of a standing room only crowd. (Tomorrow, we will feature a senior from Skyview who played in that game who is also a doctor.) 

Dr. Christine Sonners, a 2010 graduate of Prairie High School, said sports helped her prepare to become a doctor. Photo courtesy Sonners family
Dr. Christine Sonners, a 2010 graduate of Prairie High School, said sports helped her prepare to become a doctor. Photo courtesy Sonners family

She focused on her running as a senior at Prairie. She made it to state that year. 

Turns out, she was just starting to hit her stride. She was a walk-on at the University of Washington and competed for the Huskies for two seasons before injuries slowed her down.

She never wavered on her main goal, though.

She graduated with honors in 2014 from UW, took a year off, then started medical school. As part of the University of Washington’s medical system, she was sent to Spokane, where she proudly wore her UW pin in Coug country. 

In her third year of medical school, she joined the safari program, where she moved every six weeks to different hospitals throughout Wyoming, Montana, eastern Washington, and Idaho.

“That was a really cool experience,” Sonners said. “Very rural, which I liked.”

She returned to Seattle for her fourth year and graduated.

Dr. Sonners.

She said that was surreal, hearing others call her doctor. 

At first, she said, “you don’t feel you’re ever ready for that title.”

It matters, though.

“I take it very seriously.”

When a patient calls her that, she knows she is building a trust. 

A 28-year-old, she jokes that she sometimes thinks she just graduated from high school. And now just look at her.

“What do I know?” she says with a laugh. “But I went to medical school. I promise.”

While at UW, she met Mark Kowalczyk. They are both doctors now, in the same program in San Diego. They are planning a September wedding.

Nothing is concrete yet, but there is a possibility of a return to the Northwest.

“San Diego is beautiful. Sun every day. It’s pretty wonderful,” Sonners said. “But I miss the Northwest a lot.”

She acknowledged that after high school, she was excited to leave Vancouver. 

“We’re considering coming back. It’s a great city,” she said. “I miss the community that we had there. I have nothing but fond memories. A lot of it is tied to sports. Women’s sports in Vancouver was actually a really big deal. Don’t think you find that anywhere.”

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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