Meet Paola Daza Nunez: Doctor, Linguist, Reading Champion

Dr. Daza Nunez

Dr. Daza Nunez is carrying the torch for early literacy at Lowell CHC, where children receive brand new books during well-child visits through Reach out and Read.

Dr. Nunez has always had a love of language and community health. She speaks English and Spanish and is working hard to perfect her Portuguese. Lowell Community Health Center is the perfect place to sharpen her skills.

“I really love the values here … it means a lot to me to be part of a work place where I am not just a doctor, my background makes a difference, where I can understand the culture of my patients.”

Growing up in Colombia, Dr. Daza Nunez always felt drawn to public service. She imagined a life for herself serving Colombia’s more rural areas. Then, her husband’s work brought them both to the US.

Dr. Daza Nunez’s early career focused on medical research, but she quickly felt drawn toward community health. She joined the Lowell CHC Pediatrics department last spring. Soon after, long-time pediatrician Dr. Patty Dykstra announced her retirement. For years, Dr. Dykstra led the charge with our partnership with Reach out and Read, a national program that provides brand new books to families during well-child visits from birth through age 5 and coaches the care team on ways to help parents share the love of reading with their kids.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kumble Rajesh knew Dr. Dykstra’s shoes would be hard to fill. He sent out an email looking for department volunteers, but knew it was a big ask.

“It only took two minutes for me to respond – yes!” Dr. Daza Nunez remembers with a laugh.

She was familiar with the Reach Out and Read program, and knew the impact it could have on our young patients. She jumped right in, and even obtained a grant to add books in additional languages to reflect our evolving patient population, including Portugues, Dari and Pashto, much to the delight of newly arrived patients from Afghanistan.

“I love absolutely everything about this reading program” Dr. Daza Nunez gushes. “It goes beyond just promoting literacy. It’s about a connection between parents, their children, and our providers. It creates such benefits for families. When they see and interact with these beautiful books, especially in their own language, it means so much.”

Photo caption: Dr. Paola Daza Nunez is leading the charge for early literacy here at the Health Center through Reach Out and Read. “For me, there is so much joy in this work!”