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Opening Lines

When you're one of more than 20,000 applicants to the University of Washington, the pressure is on to make a great first impression. Columns asked Robin Hennes, assistant director of admissions at the UW, to share some of the most memorable opening sentences she encountered last year. Here's a sampling:

"When I was five years old, my best friend was nine, spoke a different language, and was already discussing marriage in the practical, matter-of-fact way usually reserved for women twice her age."

"As I look back, my lack of action seems disgraceful, but at the time, I was simply trying to survive."

"Amid an alien expanse of green, the air dry from a season without rain, I labored."

"I stepped off the bus at Jinan No. 1 High School in northwestern Shandong Province keenly aware of my bright red hair, and the fact that I was drawing more attention than Karl Rove at an NAACP meeting."

"As I looked out the backseat window of a new 2005 Chevy Trailblazer at the tops of houses submerged under 10 feet of water, I understood why this was such a big deal."