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Reaching out to help people after divorce

Amy Osmond Cook
April 16, 2013

Many ASU professors strive to make their course material fit the “real world,” giving students information they can apply in their communities and resources they can use in their lives and future careers.

Amy Osmond Cook, faculty associate in the ASU School of Letters and Sciences, not only focuses on how people can communicate better in the business world, but how they can survive one of the most traumatic life events: divorce.

She and Lisa LaBelle have recently launched, a resource site for those facing the big “D,” offering articles from experts across the country and an online discussion forum. Topics address relationships, finances, legal issues, children and overall well-being.

“Divorce is overwhelming, and moving on can seem like an impossible task,” says Cook, who was divorced 11 years ago at the age of 26, with two young children. “Lisa and I know what it feels like to have your world collapse before your eyes.

“During those times we wished that we had resources to help us cope and a community of people to share our struggles with. We created this website with those goals in mind.”

Cook, who teaches communication, interdisciplinary and writing courses, and LaBelle, a Utah child and family advocate, were moved by the responses they received from readers after publishing the book “Hope After Divorce” in 2011. They decided to expand their outreach, to offer support to more people.

Having remarried eight years ago and now the mother of five children, Cook also is the author of two more books, “Full Bloom: Cultivating Success,” and “Why They Believe.” She writes a weekly parenting column in the Orange County Register and runs a publishing company.

Cook began teaching online courses through ASU in 2007, not long after earning her doctorate from the University of Utah in communication with an organizational rhetoric emphasis. She says her students like the individual attention and the amount of feedback they get in an online course.

“Students like the online class better because the feedback is very individual, and you develop a relationship with each student,” she says. “It’s a fantastic way to teach. I love it because it allows me to connect with people all over the world. I have students from Japan, China and Great Britain, for instance.”

Her research interests include organizational identity, the way businesses are structured through the communication process and the challenges they face when so much more communication takes place remotely, rather than face to face.

Her work with individuals facing divorce has special meaning for her not only because of her own experience but because of the magnitude of need. Forty-three percent of couples divorce within the first 15 years, she says, resulting in a lot of pain.

Cook, who is a niece of performers Donny and Marie Osmond, began performing with the Osmond family in early childhood and has continued to sing and play the violin throughout her adult life. In 1994 she became America’s Junior Miss and toured the country as a performer and motivational speaker.

Her current work is among the most rewarding she’s ever done.

“I connect with the goals and values of ASU. I get to teach at an institution that’s not an ivory tower, but that tries to make its courses fit the real world. And with the new resource site, I feel blessed to be part of something that has the potential to improve people’s lives.”