Answers 1Add Yours
The wakeup call of his uncle dying from cancer was a big part of the characterization of Mitch. He realized he was going to die eventually and needed something to show for his life. As a result, he went back to school and got a masters degree in journalism.
The second part of the question calls for your opinion. I believe that Mitch's uncle's death left him with the realization that life is short, and the knowledge that if he wanted to leave a legacy..... he needed to start applying himself.