Diversity fair caters to job seekers with disabilities - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Diversity fair caters to job seekers with disabilities

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Many people with disabilities have trouble finding jobs. That's why October is National Disabilities Employment Month and a time those with special challenges seek out employers who will give them a chance.

More than 200 people registered for this diversity works job fair at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Tuesday. One is 28-year-old Matthew Ragona who hopes to find employment.

"I have a Master's degree in organizational psychology, a background in technical writing and policy analysis. I've written legislation in the past but I'm pretty much open to anything, even something below my skill level," said Ragona.

Despite his cerebral palsey, Matthew's education will make him an asset to the right employer.

"It includes things like human resources, ergonomics, helping people with job specifications for legal and regulatory purposes," he said.

Organizers said it's not what disabled people can't do but what they can do that they emphasize. Catherine Thomas, with the Business and Career Solutions Center, said they don't usually disappoint.

"People with disabilities are extremely interested in securing the position, they tend to be very loyal. They have great attendance records and are more likely to show up and do the work that needs to be done  and they're in for the long haul," said Thomas.

Yet, Thomas admits many employers don't give disabled people a chance.

"They are generally screened out based upon visible appearances. Employers are hesitant to seek out information on what people with disabilities can do and what their abilities are because they unfortunately sometimes make assumptions based on what they see," said Thomas.

She said people who don't give those with disabilities a chance are missing out on an asset to their company and  their bottom line ... people like Matthew.

"I'm originally from Albany, New York but I live in Alexandria, Louisiana and I have connections in Baton Rouge and I'm pretty much willing and able to relocate any place," said Ragona,
a man with high hopes for a new job.

For more information on jobs for people with disabilities, call Catherine at 337-721-4010 or stop by their office at 2424 Third Street in Lake Charles. There are also job fairs at the Monroe Civic Center on Oct. 29 and at the Bossier Civic Center on Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Matthew's resume is posted at the end of this story.

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Matthew R. Ragona, MA

4102 Whitefield Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71303-2921

Home: (318) 265-2333 ¨ matthewrr30@hotmail.com


Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA

Masters of Arts, Industrial/Organizational Psychology                                    Graduation: November 2009


Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA

Bachelors of Arts, Political Science                                                                    Graduation: August 2007



   Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, Alexandria, LA                        July 2012 – Current

        Counseling Volunteer


   Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, Alexandria, LA                       August 2011 – June 2012

        Research Volunteer


        SSA Consultants, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA                                                         May 2009 –June 2009

        Graduate Intern


        Tech Talk, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA                                         November 2003- November 2004




Consulted on a multimillion dollar statewide trauma system and registry development
Demonstrated the use of computer equipment to students and visitors
Established, organized and wrote the charter for the student organization, Louisiana Tech Linux Users Group (TLUG)
Capable in Latin and Spanish
References available upon request


Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, Access, WordPerfect, DOS, MS Windows, UNIX, Darwin, BeOS, Mac OS, OpenOffice.org, GNOME and KDE
Knowledge of Visio, SPSS and SAP
Rudimentary programming skill in 80386, Assembler, BASIC, C, Lisp, Perl, Python, Bash, awk and sed
Repaired common computer Hardware and software problems


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