“A whirlwind of intelligence, zealous perseverance and passion” is how Ashland resident Irene M. Cucina was described by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) when she was presented with the AAHPERD Honor Award at the national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April. The Honor Award recognizes meritorious contributions on the part of AHPERD members who are persons of personal integrity and exemplify the spirit of devoted service to the professions, and who have, by their leadership and industry, made an outstanding and noteworthy contribution to the advancement of health, physical education, recreation and dance.
Cucina is associate professor of health and physical education at Plymouth State University and serves as assistant chair of the Health and Human Performance Department and coordinator of the Graduate Health Program. Professionally involved at the state, district and national levels, she has provided extraordinary service and has filled just about every role possible for her profession. Cucina has also held a number of offices for AAHPERD at the state and district levels: vice president of the Division of Girls and Women in Sport for Massachusetts AAHPERD, as well as vice president for health for New Hampshire AAHPERD. Within the Eastern District Association, Irene served two terms as vice president of recreation and most recently as president from 2003-2004. The AAHPERD citation continues, “Her leadership in these positions was outstanding, and she demonstrated a commitment and passion for her work that very few individuals possess.” The organization also noted her consistent contribution to the profession through her research and national presentations on “everything from kinesiology to teacher preparation.”.
Cucina has received numerous awards and accolades including the EDA Honor Award, the NASPE Pathfinder Award, and the New Hampshire AAHPERD Outstanding Professional Award for College Teaching. In 2004, she was inducted into the Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame. The AHPERD citation concluded, “Such recognition is illustrative of the respect she has earned from her colleagues. Irene’s energy, dedication and passion for the profession represent an individual who has become a positive role model for all to admire. She is the consummate professional and is a most deserving choice for the 2006 AAHPERD Honor Award.”.
Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.