Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” Joe Zuniga of Ruskin would agree with Dr. Angelou. Zuniga has faced a multitude of challenges in his life, but he was never defeated, and, to paraphrase Dr. Angelou, “Still he rises.”
Zuniga was born in Miami but raised in Ruskin. He is the product of a single mother with a Christian upbringing.
“My family and I were migrants that traveled throughout the country working in the fields, picking vegetables and fruits,” Zuniga said. “I’ve experienced much adversity throughout my life. As a teenager, I began hanging with the wrong crowd and ended up expelled from high school, which then led to five years in prison for continuing on the wrong path. After serving my time in prison, I decided to change my life and go back to school.”
Zuniga received an associate’s degree in business management from Hillsborough Community College, as well as certification from the College of Business at USF. He studied entrepreneurship and business innovation at the University of Glamorgan in Europe and received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from USF.
“During this time I also launched my company Zuniga Marketing, Inc., a full-service marketing and advertising agency,” Zuniga said. “I also became an award-winning recording artist, an author and an inspirational speaker. I definitely try to keep myself pretty busy.”
Music is in Zuniga’s blood.
“My big brother, Toby Zuniga, is a professional drummer, and as a kid I would love to watch him jam out on his drums,” Zuniga said. “Also, my brother-in-law, Jesse Sandoval, is a professional guitarist, and he would allow me to tag along with him and his band to different performances during my preteen years.”
He recently released the single On This Side of the Door, which is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all online platforms. In addition to his musical and marketing career, Zuniga is very involved with the community, hence his nickname of ‘Mr. Tampa.’
“Since becoming Honorary Mayor of the Ruskin, Wimauma and Sun City Center area, my goal is to hopefully inspire the Latino community to get more involved with community issues and community organizations,” Zuniga said.
What Zuniga wants the community to know most about him is that he is part of the community.
“I’m a man of my own convictions and high expectations,” Zuniga said. “I believe in Christ, in community, country and love for my family. I know what it is to overcome adversity, which is why I always fight for those in the community who can’t defend themselves or can’t be heard.”
If you would like to learn more about Joe Zuniga, you can visit his website at www.joezuniga.com.