During the peak of the pandemic, most people began a new hobby or adopted a pet. UNC junior Devon Triplett took a different route and founded a non-profit: Bridging the Gap.
BTG is a national 501 (c)(3) that launched in January 2021. The organization's website says the group is committed to increasing representation in the business community and providing students with unprecedented economic opportunities. Triplett said he hopes BTG can change the business community by identifying, cultivating and connecting future BIPOC business leaders.
Triplett said he was just a first-year at UNC when he created the vision for the company from the comfort of his childhood bedroom. With the help of his “underdog” mentality from being a first-generation student, he was set on making an impact in the community.
"For me, it was just coming to college and wanting so desperately some of these opportunities and willing to work hard to make it happen,” he said.
Triplett admitted that he faced some challenges and doubts along the way. His love for helping people and consulting, which he said was instilled in him by his grandparents, gave him endurance.
He said his grandfather was a lawyer who represented underprivileged individuals and, therefore, didn’t make much money. But, just like Triplett, he mainly cared about helping others.
When Triplett was in high school, two of his cousins died due to opioid addiction. This, he said, moved him to create and lead a summit to help reduce the stigma of addiction. This summit was the first of his leadership ventures.
The summit was a success and was even featured on multiple news outlets, such as ABC13 and Blue Ridge Public Radio.
“I'd seen the work that I was able to do in high school,” Triplett said. “And I think that's where I was able to get over the limiting beliefs.”
BTG currently represents 52 universities and has four partnerships across a network of over 130 students.
Eugenia Trakal, BTG’s current chief operating officer, discovered BTG through LinkedIn in late 2021.
“I saw how many followers they had and saw the impact that they had, just from being started in January of 2021,” Trakal said. “The impact that they had in only a year, I was like, 'This is absolutely insane,’ and that's why I wanted to get involved.”
Trakal is currently a sophomore at Arizona State University and credits BTG for a lot of her success. She said the company not only helped her prepare for her career and land her dream internship at Goldman Sachs – it gave her the motivation and confidence she needed to apply.
The most rewarding thing for Triplett, he said, is seeing his BTG family succeed. He said their group chat would celebrate every single time an individual got an internship or job offer.
“So, it's a lot of fun and a lot of them credit BTG for their success, which is truly amazing,” he said.
He continues to build upon his mission at BTG, as the company recently started working on supporting students to pursue higher education — starting with deferred MBA programs.
Kana Cummings, the group's former COO, is a Stanford graduate student who has recently been admitted to Harvard Business School's deferred MBA program.
“I'm grateful to BTG and early admit for giving me this opportunity,” Cummings said. “So hopefully in the future, a lot more BTG students can also leverage these resources and get into the schools that they want.”
Triplett said he is equally grateful and hopes BTG will continue to help more students and diversify the business community.
“I think what we're doing now is great. We're keeping a close-knit, familial feel, so we call it the BTG family, which is something that I'm extremely proud of,” Triplett said.
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