Student athlete. Kansas Jayhawk. Econ major. With hometown roots in Kansas City, Missouri, senior Mitch Lightfoot was a KU fan long before he began his career on the court. It was only natural, then, that he would pursue his passion for basketball at the University of Kansas as part of Bill Self’s team. And as an economics major in the College, with a business minor, he discovered opportunities to challenge himself outside of Allen Fieldhouse as well.
Learn what Mitch had to say about exploring new ideas and building flexible skills for a variety of career paths in the Heart of KU, tips for success, his favorite KU memory (spoiler: it might involve the Final Four), and, whether in the classroom or on the court, the value of living life without “what ifs.”
Where are you from? And why did you decide to come to KU?
I’m from Kansas City, Missouri, and I moved to Arizona when I was 5 years old. I’ve always been a KU fan, and my family are KU fans. We’re kind of KU die-hards, and that’s why I went to KU.
Why did you choose your major?
I chose my major because I felt it was flexible and would allow me to pursue multiple professions when I get out of college and when I’m done with my career as an athlete. I wouldn’t say there was a single moment when I decided what to study. It was more of a culmination of things and realizing, in talking to people, that economics is something that I could use in more than one aspect of my life.
What is the most exciting part of your major and minor?
I would say getting to meet people from a bunch of different backgrounds is the most exciting part, whether it’s people in my classes or teachers. It allows me to interact with people that I might not get to interact with on a daily basis.
What is the benefit of being in the KU College alongside students studying sciences, arts and humanities?
You get to meet students that you wouldn’t in other areas in life. In the College, you’re exposed to diversity and get to see how other people think, bounce ideas off of others, and understand their ideas and interests.
How has being a student athlete shaped your experiences at KU?
Being a student athlete has shaped my experience at KU by allowing me to gain both an academic and athletic perspective. I get to meet people in the classroom, teachers and professors, and as a student athlete I get to meet other student athletes from across the nation and across the globe, and I get to learn from them and gain an understanding of their lives and perspectives.
Give a shout-out to a professor, mentor, advisor, or someone at KU who has helped you?
My shout-out goes to Dr. Scott Ward, “Scooter”, who was one of my academic advisors. He’s done a great job and helped shape my time here at KU. He helped me become a bigger person, and I really appreciate him
What’s your best KU memory?
My best KU memory would probably be going to the Final Four. It was an experience unlike any other.
What has been your favorite class at KU? And why?
I like being pushed in class, but I also like classes where it’s more of a group learning environment, where you meet with peers in the class and go over stuff with them in order for you to truly understand the topic. I enjoy classes where teaching from the instructor is important, but where students also help each other. That’s something that’s special about Economics classes at KU.
What would you tell your freshman self?
I would say don’t be afraid to slow down. Relax, take your time, and enjoy it. It’s fun. Freshman year is a time of getting to learn with everybody, and learn what going to college is like. And also I would say, don’t worry too much about figuring out your major in the first year. It’ll come to you and you can take your time.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
When I graduate, I want to play basketball for as long as I can, which will most likely be overseas. Then when I get done with that, I want to use the connections I’ve made here at KU to get into the professional world.
What motivates you?
Since the earliest I can remember, my motivation has been trying to get the most out of the talents I’ve been given. Whether in the classroom or on the court, I don’t want to live with “what ifs.” I want to get the most out of every situation, and that’s what I base things on.
Be like Mitch. Explore new ideas, and enjoy the moment. For more information, explore the Department of Economics, the School of Business, and KU Athletics at the University of Kansas.