When you do what you love, it shows. People notice. They come to recognize you for your readiness, your commitment, your fervor. And, in some cases, that recognition comes in the form of the highest honors in your field.

Such is the case of Mark P. Del Mastro, chair of the College of Charleston Department of Hispanic Studies, who last month was selected as a full member of the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (ANLE) – a distinction that fewer than 50 people currently have.

Established in 1973, ANLE (which translates in English to the North American Academy of the Spanish Language) is part of the Spanish Royal Academy that was founded in 1713. Its primary mission is the study, elaboration and implementation of the normative rules of the Spanish language in the United States.

Candidates for full membership to ANLE are selected on the basis of having distinguished themselves with a broad and deserved reputation in the development and promotion of the Spanish language, Hispanic literature and/or related Hispanic cultural studies. Del Mastro was named a full member for his extensive and high-profile work with the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, the South Carolina Spanish Teacher of the Year program, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Association and his multiple founding editorships; and his research.

He spent the last year researching the history of Sigma Delta Pi, the oldest Spanish honor society, for which he currently serves as the national executive director. To commemorate the centennial of the National Collegiate Honor Society, his research will be published with the Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs in the spring of 2020. Part of his research was meeting with the granddaughter of the society’s founder, Ruth Helen Barnes – something he will always remember.

Neither will he forget being named a full member of ANLE at last month’s ceremony held at the Spanish Benevolent Society in New York City.

It was, he says, “an indescribable honor that one never anticipates when simply doing the work that one loves.”