Opportunities abound at Huntsville career fair

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Job seekers were eager to showcase their skills at the annual Ability Career Fair on Friday, May 3, at Redstone Federal Credit Union in Huntsville.

The fair, which was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Huntsville Area Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, and Phoenix Industries connected employers and individuals with disabilities.

Vendors present included AAFES, Nextek, Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Ierus Technologies, Colsa, Alacare, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Radiance Technologies, Teledyne Brown, Qualis Corporation, Jacobs, Bevilacqua, Lowes, Phoenix, Candlewood Suites, Schwarze, Invariant Corp, and the ADRS rehab engineering department.

A breakout session featured an inspirational presentation by Bob Lujano. Lujano, author of the book “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem,” had his limbs amputated as a child. The Birmingham resident said he enjoys sharing his life story to inspire others.

Lujano earned a silver medal with the U.S. National Wheelchair Rugby Team in 2002 and a bronze with the U.S Paralympic team in 2004. He also starred in the Academy Award nominated film “Murderball.”

He has worked as an information specialist at the Lakeshore Foundation for the National Center for the Health Physical Activity and Disabilities for more than 20 years.

Lujano’s presentation encouraged people with disabilities to use their future jobs to advocate for themselves and others by becoming an agent of change.

Advocacy, Lujano said, is simply raising awareness in a public setting about the creation of policies and effective implementation and enforcement of existing policies.

“It is basically just trying to influence the decision-makers to change certain policies in our society or to provide certain resources for people with disabilities,” he said.

Lujano entered the workforce at age 16, and he said his goal was to create a positive experience at each job. This has not always been the case.

Lujano said he sometimes found himself overqualified for positions, but he was still overlooked. Rather than blame himself, he said he became even more motivated to achieve his goals and advocate for people with disabilities.

The Huntsville career fair is a great first step to become and advocate, Lujano said, because it brings people with disabilities and employers together.

“Being at this career fair is not only about you introducing yourselves to them, it is about them introducing themselves to you,” he said.

Lujano encouraged everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to self-advocate and showcase their talents.

“Don’t be afraid to be an agent of change,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to be a voice. For years, people with disabilities have been excluded. Now is not that time. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘We begin to die each day when we remain silent about the things that matter.’ ”

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