Born in St. Rok under mountain Velebit, he finished four grades of elementary school in his place of birth and the rest in Zagreb. In 1965, he left Zagreb for Canada with his parents and sister. That same year, he began to learn English and in 1966 enrolled in high school in the Canadian town of Oakville; together with a group of Croatians, he founded the Croatian football club “Zagreb” (later renamed “Velebit”). After successfully completing high school in 1971, he enrolled in the study of natural sciences at the University of Waterloo; In 1975, he graduated with a degree in natural sciences, and in the same year he was offered a scholarship and accepted to the postgraduate study program “Research in Medicine and Healthcare” at McGill University in Montreal, however, he decided to go into Slavonic studies at his former university (University of Waterloo) and there he obtained a Master’s degree in humanities (Russian and comparative literature) in 1977. Immediately after completing his Master’s degree, he entered the third academic degree (PhD) at the University of Alberta in 1977; as part of his program, he spent one semester at Columbia University in New York in 1978 and one academic year in 1979-1980. at the University of Zagreb; he passed all exams and became an assistant and doctoral candidate in 1981; In the early 1980s, his life journey took him to Sydney, Australia, where he got a position as a lecturer in the Croatian language at the newly founded Department of Slavic Studies.
There he dedicated himself to purely Croatian topics, in the first years the organization of the Croatian Studies program and the Croatian Studies Foundation, and in the nineties the organization of the first Croatian Studies Centre in the world, with a very active involvement in the Croatian community on this continent/country. He remained as Head of Croatian Studies, Director of the Croatian Studies Centre and editor-in-chief of the Croatian Studies Review, peer reviewed journal, for a full 37 years. He retired at the beginning of 2020, but still remained the editor of CSR, the only university publication outside Croatia, and a very active member of the Croatian community. In his long career, he received numerous Australian, Croatian and university awards and recognitions, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Split for his services in preserving and promoting the Croatian language, Croatian culture, literature and Croatian identity in general in the Croatian communities in Australia and much further afield.
Budak believes that it is very important in life to have a dream and to be persistent and good at what you dream of and strive for. Luka dreamed that one day he would like to be a teacher and professor of languages, especially Croatian. By switching from the natural sciences to Slavic studies and humanities, he saw his opportunity precisely in the Croatian language. And this opportunity came true thanks to his excellent success and the support and understanding of his mentors, none of whom were Croatian or of Croatian origin. As a good student, he was the recipient of numerous scholarships that were offered only to the best. Moreover, in 1987, he played a major role, one could even say the main one, in opening of the Chair of Croatian Language at the University of Waterloo, where he spent 7 successful years and left behind a positive and excellent mark! He is especially pleased that he took care and managed to ensure that Croatian Studies, the Croatian Studies Centre, CSR journal, and the activities of the Croatian Studies Foundation for Australia continue to live and work even after his retirement. Just as the process of reproduction ensures the continuity and survival of life, so institutions can last for a long time, if their continuity is ensured. Continuity guarantees and provides a sense of stability and connection to the past and helps shape the development of communities and cultures over time.
Dr. Luka Budak