The Howze Williams Family
(Left to Right) Merecedes Williams, Keith Williams, Marlena Williams, Marjani Howze-Jetter, Ruth Howze, Rachel Howze, Zaire Howze-Jetter, Mariah Howze, Rhonda Dinkins
A single mother of four little girls worked multiple jobs and put herself through college to provide for her children. Since graduating from Pittsburgh Brashear in 1985, Ruth Howze has spent her career providing social services and advocating for families with special education needs, drug and alcohol abuse and incarceration.
Ms. Howze obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2003 from Carlow University, and two years later, she earned a master’s degree in Management and Technology also from Carlow University. She now serves as a Special Education Advocate and Organizer for One Pennsylvania, an organization that promotes economic justice with a lens on racial justice.
After a brief stint with private schools, Ms. Howze realized that she needed behavior supports for one child and gifted services for all four girls. It was at Pittsburgh Public Schools where she found “a plethora of resources and supports to address all the needs of all my children.”
In 1997, Ms. Howze found a school within the district that appeared to have everything she was looking for in a school socially and academically. At Pittsburgh Lincoln Technology Academy, there were a large number of African-American teachers, robust afterschool programs, Saturday School on the weekends, and Freedom School in the summer. Pittsburgh Lincoln was a dream come true for a working parent like herself.
“Dr. Regina Holley invested her time, money, and expertise into the students, families, and the community.”
Ms. Howze has four daughters—Rachel, Merecedes, Rhonda, and Mariah.
In 2004, Rachel graduated with honors from Schenley High School and then earned her bachelor’s degree of Arts from Temple University. Rachel is a Behavioral Health Specialist at Wesley Family Services, serving youth and families at Pittsburgh Westinghouse. Every winter, Rachel crotchets blankets and scarves for the elderly. Specifically, the handmade items are made with love to bring warmth and comfort to senior citizens who don’t have a family.
Rhonda graduated from Schenley with honors in 2008 and earned her International Baccalaureate degree. She was a part of the first class of PPS students to receive the Pittsburgh Promise. Rhonda used the Pittsburgh Promise in Philadelphia, and in 2012, she graduated magna cum laude from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Legal Studies and minor in Accounting. In 2015, Rhonda earned her Juris Doctorate from University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (cum laude). She continued her law education in 2018 by obtaining her Master of Law degree in Taxation with honors from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Rhonda is a tax associate at Seyfarth Shaw in New York City.
The baby of the bunch, Mariah, studied Spanish at Pittsburgh Obama and graduated in 2014. Last May, Mariah graduated magna cum laude from California University of Pennsylvania with an associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Arts. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Resource Development at Villanova University. Mariah now works for CalU as a Development Assistant. She oversees the university’s call center and student callers, raising almost $35,000 in scholarships.
In 2005, Merecedes also graduated from Schenley High School with honors and began working for Pittsburgh Public Schools during her junior year. Merecedes studied journalism and theology at Clark Atlanta and Duquesne Universities before returning to the workforce. She returned to her elementary school, Pittsburgh Lincoln, and was hired as a tutor. Since 2003, in many different capacities, she has worked in over 20 Pittsburgh Public Schools. Currently, she works for the district’s Office of Public Information as Project Assistant where she manages social media, event planning, good news stories, and serves as a liaison between the media and school district. In 2013, Merecedes opened her own business, Movie Scene Queen. Through MSQ, she has distributed approximately 50,000 FREE movie tickets, providing educational opportunities for District schools. In the past, she has sent district schools to see “Black Panther”, “The Hate U Give”, “Marshall”, and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.
In 2015, Merecedes met Keith, a 2003 Peabody High School graduate. The two married precisely two years after meeting each other. Known rivals in the early 2000s, the only real debate in their house is what was the best city high school- Peabody or Schenley?
Keith works in dietary and elderly care for a local senior living center. Keith and Merecedes have five children—Marjani, Makayla (Tampa, FL), Mackenzie (Tampa, FL), Zaire, and Marlena.
Marjani, a seventh-grader at Pittsburgh Obama, and Zaire, a fifth-grader at Pittsburgh Dilworth, are both gifted, high honor roll students. Marjani plays volleyball for the Lady Eagles and is a part of the 100 Club, a school initiative to positively support academics. Zaire plays basketball and is in the orff ensemble at Pittsburgh Dilworth. While Zaire receives his Gifted services onsite at Pittsburgh Dilworth, Marjani enjoys her classes at the Pittsburgh Gifted Center. Marjani has some of the same teachers her mother had at the Gifted Center like Mrs. Norfleet. In their spare time, Marjani and Zaire act, being featured in “Out of the Furnace” (2013), “Faith Under Fire” (2018), and “Parallels” (2018).
Their little sister, Marlena, is enrolled in the early head start program at Pittsburgh Westinghouse. She is currently mastering two languages, English and Sign Language.
Ruth Howze played an active role in her girls’ education, teaching them strength, resiliency, and perseverance, and it all started at Pittsburgh Public Schools.