The first time she saw blood, she said she almost fainted.
"Of course I was scared, I scared too much, but there was something inside me telling me that there is something that I am supposed to keep doing," she says softly.
"I can't just be afraid and go, I am supposed to stay, and time after time I learn and I have more courage to do this."
Freedom and democracy
Now, dealing with the influx of wounded has become almost mechanical, part of a macabre daily routine. Despite the horror of what she is witnessing, dwelling on her own emotions is a luxury she cannot afford.
Aya is from a conservative Sunni family, and when it comes to the future of Syria she is fighting for, she says she wants to see something of a blend of both an Islamic and a democratic Syria.
"But democracy is better," she adds. "We need freedom, we need democracy, we need to say what we want without anyone saying to us, 'Why are you saying this?'"
Also in Aleppo, I met a young woman who goes by the pseudonym Sama. She walked into the room at a hospital run by the opposition, sporting jeans and long mud-covered boots, her brown hair tied in a loose ponytail, carrying a computer and with a camera slung around her neck.
Having grown accustomed to hearing male voices narrating the various YouTube videos, and having only come across male "media activists," we were surprised, to say the least.
Sama, in her early 20s, was living with the hospital "staff" -- now made up mostly of young men and a handful of women, many of whom had no prior medical experience.
At the onset of the uprising she had been among the many who organized demonstrations at Aleppo University. With aspirations to go into journalism, she picked up a camera and began filming the dead and wounded. It's something she says one can never get used to.
The day before we met an artillery round had slammed into a crowd of people waiting for bread.
"Despite all the chaos and the pressure around four to five times I just wanted to put the camera down and sit and cry," she told us.
"But you think to yourself there is a message you have to get out, it is hard and harsh, but it has to get out, it's your responsibility. You get depressed but then you force yourself to be strong again."
Trading ideas, ideologies
Among her colleagues at the hospital are people of different backgrounds -- moderate, conservative, Islamist, Salafi -- and they debate what the future Syria should look like on a regular basis.
In some ways, the revolution has brought together individuals who would never have interacted, traded ideas and ideologies.
"We even shout at each other," Sama tells us with a wry smile. "I was with the revolution from the start, the revolution is one line, it's not Islamist, it's for all Syrians, and Syrians are from all sects.
"At the end, the revolution's original ideals are going to endure because we are here, those that started it will be there at the end," she adds. "If something happens and this changes it means it's our fault because we gave up."
There is a growing sense of awareness among female activists about the need to ensure the empowerment of women, now more than perhaps ever before.
The fact that Syrian women were among the first to demonstrate against the regime is little reported.
The country is no stranger to seeing women in high power roles, as lawyers, bankers, and politicians.
But despite that, women remain grossly under-represented when it comes to the local opposition councils inside Syria and the opposition bodies that exist outside of the country.
Rajaa al-Talli, Catherine's younger sister, was in the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship, studying for a Masters in mathematics in Boston, when the uprising began. Since then she has co-founded the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria.
Rajaa, now based in southern Turkey, has been researching the part played by her fellow countrywomen in the Syrian revolution, and running workshops focused on boosting their role.
Through her work and research with some of the underprivileged women at refugee camps, she found their main concerns for Syria's future were education and the economy. Politically speaking, they wanted freedom, justice and dignity, though some believed that women should not have leading roles in legislation or governance.
"Some are very inspirational and some are willing to learn," she explains, speaking over Skype. "In Syria we are not exposed to politics and some women would really like to be involved, they just don't know how, and we don't have the advocacy or lobbying skills.
"The men, especially the men now involved in politics, they have more opportunities to educate themselves and gain experience."
Rajaa is focusing her efforts on empowering women from different levels of society, giving them the skillsets to make their voices and their demands heard.
"My approach is that women are still not doing enough to advocate for themselves, and we are not lobbying each other," she says. "If women don't work for it, men won't care about it."
Just back from a recent Syrian women's conference in Doha that brought together between 15 and 20 female activists, she said that among the many discussions was the role that women needed to play in a post-Assad era, from transitional justice, to rule of law, to governance, and getting women more involved in the decision making process.
The groups set an ambitious target: 50% representation for women in government, and to try to alter the dynamics of local councils and opposition bodies by demanding and working for more female representation.
"The pillars of extremism and radicalism are usually [used] to oppress women," Rajaa says. "Having more women empowered is hitting one of the pillars that support extremism."
She and others fully realize that the next set of rules may want to sideline them, to relegate them to the shadows.
For the women of the Syrian opposition, this is a two-pronged battle: Fighting for freedom against an oppressive regime, and battling just as hard to ensure that their individual rights do not perish in the process as the landscape and dynamics of the Syrian uprising shift.
It is by no means an easy goal, nor is its success ensured, but the majority of Syrian women I have met over the last two years through my reporting are not going to sit silently by and watch while their freedoms are stolen from them or their future dictated to them.