Education and human development honors alumni at 25th annual award ceremony

Contact: Chris Hybels

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University is honoring Jamie Korinek and Dr. Pam Schwallier with Golden Apple Awards, Desiree Pfeifer with a Keystone Early Career Award and Danielle Gillis with a Keystone Meritorious Award at the 25th annual CEHD Alumni Awards.

“Our alumni are a testament to the success and impact of WMU’s College of Education and Human Development. Not only do we celebrate our alumni as a recognition of their personal achievements, but as a reminder to our current and future students to strive for their own greatness," says Dr. Laura Dinehart, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

The 25th Annual CEHD Alumni Awards reception will be held during Homecoming Weekend on Friday, Oct. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at the Fetzer Center. Register for the event


Jamie Korinek

Korinek, B.A.‘03, M.A.‘09, is a culture and climate coach for Kalamazoo Public Schools. During his 20 years of service in the field of education, Korinek has served as a middle school social studies teacher and was named the Middle School Educator of the Year by the Michigan Council for the Social Studies in 2017. Korinek has also served as a middle school student support specialist, district S.T.E.A.M education coordinator and district whole child support coordinator for Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools. During this time, Korinek developed and implemented an innovative four-pillared approach (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, Trauma Informed Mental Health, Social and Emotional Learning, Restorative Practices) to support whole child development as a foundation for cognitive functioning at the secondary level. During this time, Galesburg-Augusta Middle School hosted site visits and provided consultations for numerous districts, RESAs and organizations from across the state of Michigan. 

During his time as Galesburg-Augusta’s S.T.E.A.M education coordinator, Korinek founded a comprehensive community-wide S.T.E.A.M partnership with Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies and later expanded the partnership to include Eaton Corporation. The partnership was founded with the tenets of expanding students' access to hands-on classroom support from professionals within S.T.E.A.M fields, career and college readiness, robotics, and collaborative service to the community. Korinek also created and implemented a hands-on authentic learning program in partnership with Eaton Cummins. The program, titled the D.R.E.A.M Project (Design Thinking, Responsibility, Employability Skills, Authentic Learning and Metacognition) is a project-based, place-based and problem based program where students work on-site to solve authentic, contemporary problems presented by local businesses within the S.T.E.A.M fields. Korinek is a recipient of the 2023 CEHD Golden Apple Award.


Dr. Pam Schwallier

Schwallier, B.S.‘06, Ed.S.‘16; Ph.D.‘20, is the director of English Learner (EL) and Bilingual Programs at West Ottawa Public Schools where she supports YK-12 grade programs that serve roughly 1,000 multilingual students from 30 unique language backgrounds along with migratory students, immigrant students, and students participating in dual language and world language programs.  

Schwallier’s leadership and commitment to expanding educational equity for multilingual students and families has served as a catalyst for strengthened systems at West Ottawa and beyond.  She has cultivated partnerships with local, state, national and global entities which have led to increased opportunities and outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students. 

Schwallier serves on the Michigan Department of Education’s EL Advisory and has presented on various topics related to EL and bilingual education at local, state and national events. Her dedication to educational equity, passion for serving culturally and linguistically diverse students and families, and vast experience working alongside students and educators in multiple capacities has allowed her to become a respected leader in the field. Schwallier is a recipient of the 2023 CEHD Golden Apple Award.


Desiree Pfeifer

Pfeifer, B.S.'17, is a notable entrepreneur and business owner. As the CEO of DesbFitTraining LLC (DBFT), founded over seven years ago, Pfeifer has emerged as an industry leader through her unwavering dedication and innovative approach. Specializing as a pre- and post-natal coach, women's coaching specialist and a certified personal trainer, Pfeifer's entrepreneurial venture has flourished under her leadership. With a team of dedicated full-time coaches, DesbFitTraining offers comprehensive education and expertise in health and fitness, including dietetics, support for those dealing with disordered eating, women's health and more. Her business has positively impacted tens of thousands of lives, offering guidance for physical and mental well-being.

Pfeifer's fitness journey began as a student-athlete when she was a part of Western's volleyball MAC championship team in 2014. Transitioning to a personal trainer at West Hills Athletic Club in 2016, her career trajectory changed as she fell in love with movement and self-improvement through fitness. At WMU, Pfeifer leveraged her education and trainer experience to create personalized workout programs for peers, marking the inception of her entrepreneurial journey.

Transforming her passion into a multi-figure business, DBFT has empowered women globally, physically and mentally, through health and wellness. The "BFIT TRAINING" app serves as the heart of her vibrant community, where individuals experience lasting results through DBFT. Pfeifer's influence extends beyond her brand, with national recognition through collaborations and consulting services for marketing and brand-building insights. Her impact within the industry has been recognized by surrounding leaders who seek business expertise. Pfeifer is the recipient of the 2023 CEHD Keystone Early Career Award.


Danielle Gillis

Gillis, B.S.'09, M.A.'14, is a certified diabetes care and education specialist and licensed dietitian who has served in both public and private sectors for over a decade.

Gillis served in a lead role at Cherry Health, where she operated with the Women, Infants and Children’s program and the Maternal Infant Health Program. In this role she proactively addressed nutrition needs of low-income and underserved pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as young children to promote healthier outcomes and reduce the cost of health-related conditions within the healthcare system. She also coordinated with the public school system of the greater-Grand Rapids area to provide nutrition education and support for adolescents. Concurrently, Gillis worked with Grand Health Partners and the McCahill Group providing nutrition counseling in both medical and workplace settings.

Gillis currently works with University of Michigan Health–West as a certified diabetes educator. She also continues to provide motivational interviewing based nutrition consultations through Vida Health and is licensed in four states. In addition to her career contributions, Gillis has served to help educate future dietitians by serving on the Western Michigan Internship Selection Committee and acting as preceptor for dietetic internship programs. Gillis is the recipient of the 2023 Keystone Meritorious Career Award.

For more information about the CEHD Alumni Awards, including past recipients, please visit the CEHD Alumni Awards webpage.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.