- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Alumni in Action: Dr. Sonia Novotny
Dr. Sonia Novotny was always interested in medicine.
“I always liked science, but I wanted to do something with people, with building relationships,” she said.
In 1995, as a freshman at Cherry Creek High School, she took an elective class that helped turn her interest in medicine into a passion and a profession.
“One of the big things that helped me so much was a class called Science Research,” Dr. Novotny recalled. “I took it all through high school. It was an extra class that you could do during your lunch period. It met once a week and our teacher, Steve Lantz, would teach us how to read scientific papers, and how to use the scientific method and statistics. The class paired us up with people who worked in labs at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.”
During her years at CCHS, Dr. Novotny got to work at the Barbara Davis Center for Juvenile Diabetes, at a lab that was doing RSV research, and in a genetics lab.
“So, I had that hands-on experience and that really helped me. When I went to college, I was able to transition into working in labs and to get publications that I think really helped me when I applied to medical school,” she said.
Dr. Novotny, who attended elementary school in Indiana, believes the rigorous education she received at Campus Middle School and Cherry Creek High School prepared her for the challenges she faced when she attended Rice University, a top-20 school located in Houston, Texas.
“I had lots of really smart people around me, but I felt that I was very well-prepared, coming from Creek, more so than my classmates,” she said. “I was used to having a lot of competition and knowing what that felt like.”
Dr. Novotny chose to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.
“I wanted something surgical, but I also wanted something where you have these ongoing relationships with people throughout their lives. You get to be part of the most important thing to the person at that time, like becoming pregnant, during their pregnancy, going through menopause, or having an issue with bleeding or pain. All of these things are very central to women and almost define them, so it really grabbed me.”
After medical school, Dr. Novotny returned to Colorado. She and her husband settled in the Cherry Creek School District, so their sons, Niels and Avi, could attend Cherry Creek Schools. Dr. Novotny wants them to have diverse and challenging educational opportunities as she did.
“My favorite opportunities were in the humanities at Creek. I took a lot of art and photography classes, and I really encourage students to take advantage of all the school district has to offer,” she said.
Dr. Novotny was very involved in her Spanish classes and participated in a school trip to Costa Rica, where she lived and attended school with a host family. As a member of Spanish Honor Society, she did community service work, including tutoring younger students at the community center in Glendale. She found that all those experiences helped prepare her for her career as a doctor.
“I really do think of medicine as a service field and so there were so many opportunities to do that with school,” she said.
Dr. Novotny, who works for Kaiser Permanente, a medical partner of the Cherry Creek School District, intentionally chose that health care company.
"I very purposefully chose my job at Kaiser because I really wanted to work for a health system that was focused on sustainable, equitable care. It really means a lot to me to be part of an organization that’s evidence-based, that’s focused on value-based medicine, and where doctors are accountable for the patient as a whole," Dr. Novotny said.
For 10 years, she practiced at a Kaiser Permanente location in Centennial, near where she lives. But three years ago, she moved to a Kaiser location in Aurora.
“After the social justice issues that came up in the last few years, and with so much data that shows patients of color respond well to doctors of color, I wanted to move to an office where I can serve a more diverse population,” she said.
Dr. Novotny says the Core Values of the Cherry Creek School District are applicable to her calling as a doctor, especially Whole Wellbeing, Relationships, Equity, and Growth Mindset.
“Medicine is always changing, and I’m excited to always be learning new things,” she said.