ABSTRACTMELANIE J. ROUSE. Exploring the effects of being a peer educator on African American breast cancer survivors. (Under the direction of DRS. A. SUZANNE BOYD and DEE BALDWIN)Efforts to reduce breast cancer-related health disparities amongst African American and White women have resulted in the development of breast cancer outreach programs that often include African American breast cancer survivors as peer educators. These programs have the potential to be beneficial for the survivors who serve as peer educators because of the potential to enhance self-efficacy beliefs through the spiritual foundation, the opportunity to be active in breast cancer outreach, exposure to other survivors and the sharing of illness narratives. Thus far, there is limited research available on African American breast cancer survivors who serve as peer educators. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of these survivors and the effect of the peer education program on the survivors' quality of life (QOL), health behaviors, and healthcare utilization. Following a grounded theory design, participants completed semi-structured interviews exploring their peer educator experiences, QOL, health behaviors, and healthcare utilization. Study findings reveal that overall participants had positive experiences as peer educators that often resulted in the participant finding her voice. Participation in the peer educator role was also found to positively influence the participants' QOL, health behaviors and healthcare utilization. The findings of this study are important in directing future research and understanding the potential benefits and/or risks of being a peer educator and may aid in the recruitment and retention of African American breast cancer survivors in these outreach programs.