When looking for a career after leaving high school, Noura Al Matroushi was drawn to study medicine - but decided instead to go for an engineering course.
Now, however, she can pursue her original choice thanks to a new training programme.
Last year, Ms Al Matroushi was the first Emirati to take part in the Student Innovators Programme at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation in Washington.
"I wanted to study medicine, but at the same time programmes were limited and I was a hands-on person," she said. "I liked practical experience and I felt that engineering would give me that the most."
Ms Al Matroushi, now 22, enrolled in an electrical engineering programme in Abu Dhabi. But a few years on, the programme from Khalifa University would have her pursuing her real dreams.
"It was actually my mum who discovered it," she said. "She came up to me and said, 'Noura, I found the perfect thing for you, you are going to love it. It combines both engineering and medicine'."
After doing some research, Ms Al Matroushi discovered that the biomedical engineering programme at the university was a perfect fit.
"It was like I had a chance to get the best of both worlds," she said.
As part of the hands-on training, she spent eight weeks with Sara Timraz, her Palestinian colleague from Khalifa University, and 12 other students from around the world learning the ins and outs of paediatric surgery.
She had an opportunity to observe live robotic surgery and to look at how modern medical equipment, developed by biomedical engineers, is used to treat patients. Each student in the programme was assigned a project and Ms Al Matroushi worked with visual illusions and studied how three-dimensional software could be used to help surgeons.
Her experience at the institute only strengthened her love for biomedical engineering.
"It made me feel like I did make the right decision," she said. "To be able to gain that experience outside and bring that knowledge and apply it in your own country is amazing."
This is not Ms Al Matroushi's first experience abroad. The year before she went to the Imperial College London to shadow PhD students researching the latest advancements in health care. She said her parents' support has played a pivotal role in shaping the ambitious woman she has become. Her long-term goal is to be a trauma surgeon.
"I don't want to limit myself to one area of the body," she said. "And I want trauma because I work best when I am under pressure. I like the adrenaline rush and knowing that this moment can save a person's life."
She acknowledged the social stigmas on women who want to pursue demanding careers, but said that this did not sway her for a moment.
"People always ask how I am going to get married and have a family with a job that requires such long hours," she said. "But I always tell them that I am confident I know how to manage my future social life.
"My mum also worked and she did a wonderful job raising us."
Ms Al Matroushi urged women not to let social barriers prevent them from pursuing their ambitions.
"These opportunities come once in a lifetime and if you don't pursue them then you will never know what you are capable of," she said. "As Emiratis we have the responsibility of meeting our potential and serving the community. It is our country, after all."