Every day for the past year, undergraduate studies sophomore Joshua Sherden has sported a bucket hat. He picks from his collection of more than 70 that surround his dorm room in stacks of plaid, camouflage and tropical patterns.
There’s the tie-dye hat that MTV star Rasika Mathur signed after Sherden taught her how to dance onstage during a comedy show. Another one covered in stars and planets, his “galaxy hat,” serves as his go-to headdress for important occasions. When he’s in a mellow mood, he chooses the one plastered with pineapples.
“The only time you may catch me without my hat is if you’re my roommate, or if I’m at a football game just going crazy, going nuts, and it flies off,” Sherden said. “I feel almost naked if I don’t have a hat on my head.”
Sherden began wearing bucket hats on the first day of his freshman year, when his collection consisted of only five. He soon began adding to his repertoire by shopping online and in thrift stores. His penchant for hats quickly earned him recognition across campus, and friends began calling him “Buckets.”
“I can’t even count the number of times people have come up to me like, ‘Yo, you have a different hat on every day,’” Sherden said.
“Both staff and students are like, ‘How many do you have? Where do you get them from? Why hats?’”
Sherden said the bucket hats have enabled him to express himself through fashion.
“The bucket hats definitely contributed to me becoming more of an individual,” Sherden said. “I don’t find hats that are just unique. They have to match my personality. It’s an extension of who I am.”
While Sherden said he often finds himself dancing and meeting new people, that wasn’t the case during his high school years.
“I used to be really shy actually,” Sherden said. “I just made a conscious decision to tell myself that in college, this is a chance for you to grow, a chance to come out of being shy and take charge of what you want and have fun.”
Before college began, Sherden shared his plan with sophomore sociology major Lawrence Williams, his roommate and high school friend. Williams said the bucket hats were influential in shaping Sherden’s personality.
“At first I didn’t think he was actually going to do it, but he really became his own person,” Williams said. “Every time I see him, he’s talking to someone different. I think the fact that he has that name, and that he’s more recognizable has helped.”
Sherden said working as an orientation adviser also helped him develop stronger relationships on campus. During a trip to Six Flags, the orientation advisers chipped in to buy Sherden a bright blue bucket hat. Aerospace engineering sophomore Bailey Sikorski and fellow orientation adviser, said they tried to find one that best represented Sherden.
“We thought, ‘We need to buy Josh one, just to be his little memorabilia from working orientation with us,’” Sikiorski said. “He started crying when we gave it to him because he was just so happy and thankful.”
Sherden said he hopes to reach 100 hats by the end of the semester, at which point he may start to give some away. Currently, he has his sights set on a particularly rare hat.
“It’s a ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ bucket hat with ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ cards all over it,” Sherden said. “It’s ridiculous. But it’s so rare — that thing costs like $60 — so I have to wait until I get a little more funds before I can get that hat. But that’s definitely on my bucket list.”