June 2, 2020

photo of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University media arts and technology alumnus Michael Jackson won a 2020 Telly Award and a 2020 New Mexico ADDY award for a marketing video his creative agency produced for Highlands.

The award-winning “Together We Are One” video can be seen at

Jackson co-founded Mya Kai Creative agency in 2014 in San Diego. He is now the sole owner of the agency, which has grown to a team of 11 employees. The agency’s headquarters is in Phoenix, with offices in Albuquerque and San Diego.

“The goal was to build for the future and start a culturally diverse agency that’s really tapped into everyday culture,” Jackson said. “I describe us as a full-service creative agency. Branding is our thing, but we do everything from national marketing campaigns to helping startups find their way.”

Mya Kai Creative’s client list is also diverse, with names such as Facebook, SoftBank Investment Advisers, Brand Jordan, the NBA Charlotte Hornets and JW Marriott.

Mya Kai Creative is the only African American-owned creative agency in Arizona and New Mexico.

“This fact gives me pride and also an obligation to introduce minorities to the creative world,” Jackson said.

Jackson has also started doing philanthropy work for the Phoenix Suns.

“This volunteer work provides an opportunity to give back to the underserved children of Phoenix,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the Telly Awards is not the first award his agency has received but is the highest.

“The Silver Telly definitely motivates us to do more and to continue on our path for the ultimate creative award, a Cannes Lion,” Jackson said.

The international Telly Awards was founded in 1979 to honor excellence in television commercials and videos. The New Mexico ADDY awards are hosted by the American Advertising Federation of New Mexico.

Jackson, who graduated from Highlands in 2010, said it was an honor when Sean Weaver, University Relations director, approached him regarding producing a video for his alma mater. As a student, Jackson was employed with Weaver as a work study graphic designer.

“I owe Sean everything. He was a mentor who really believed in me. Sean taught me to always improve and find answers,” Jackson said.

Weaver said: “Michael and his team listened to what we wanted to achieve and thoughtfully considered how we can translate what makes Highlands meaningful into a compelling video. We’re using the spots on traditional broadcast television, streaming services and social media. We’re seeing great results on all three based on click-through and view rates.”

Weaver said he was certainly glad to be part of Jackson’s journey, but what he admires most about Jackson is his generosity in sharing his success with current students.

“If there’s one thing I hope students carry with them long after graduation is the best way to thank a mentor is to be a mentor regardless of where you are in your career,” Weaver said.

Jackson said a major goal of the video is to showcase how diverse and supportive Highlands University is for students, something he said he experienced firsthand on both counts.

“Highlands shows that you don’t need to attend a large university to get a great education or make important connections,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the Highlands media arts and technology program prepared him for a successful career.

“Highlands media arts pushed me to ask questions and really rethink the way I look at design and technology. I had to be a jack of all trades and learn different styles of design. I also had to be willing to hustle,” Jackson said.

Jackson said he enjoyed returning to Highlands to work on the video project.

“The best part was going back to a campus I love and seeing how much it has grown. I also enjoyed hanging out at the new media arts building and meeting a new wave of creatives,” Jackson said.